Disciples Of Christ Quotes

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In friendship...we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years' difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another...the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting--any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you," can truly say to every group of Christian friends, "Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another." The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.
C.S. Lewis (The Four Loves)
I realized that the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end, but by His making us wait, bearing with us in love and patience until we are able to honestly to pray what He taught His disciples to pray: Thy will be done.
Elisabeth Elliot (Passion and Purity: Learning to Bring Your Love Life Under Christ's Control)
Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him. On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God. So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes. There is his commission, his work. 'The kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been spared' (Luther).
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community)
Arrogance is someone claiming to have come to Christ, but they won't spend more than five minutes listening to your journey because they are more concerned about their own well being, rather than being a true disciple of Christ. Blessed is the person that takes the time to heal and hear another person so they can move on.
Shannon L. Alder
Christian love draws no distinction between one enemy and another, except that the more bitter our enemy's hatred, the greater his need of love. Be his enmity political or religious, he has nothing to expect from a follower of Jesus but unqualified love. In such love there is not inner discord between the private person and official capacity. In both we are disciples of Christ, or we are not Christians at all.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (The Cost of Discipleship)
Diocesan exams are given at the end of March to students in Catholic schools throughout Massachusetts from the fourth to the twelfth grade. You have to answer four out of seven essay questions. A typical question goes something like this: Theologians speculate about whether Christ actually appeared to His disciples after He rose from the dead. Is the scripture clear on this? Discuss, with reference to the different gospels and their variations, and to different theological interpretations
Kathleen Zamboni McCormick (Dodging Satan: My Irish/Italian, Sometimes Awesome, But Mostly Creepy, Childhood)
The most effective way to share the gospel is to live it. When we live like disciples of Christ should live, when we aren't just good but happy to be good, others will be drawn to us.
Sheri Dew (Saying It Like It Is)
In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing. We lived at the junction of great trout rivers in western Montana, and our father was a Presbyterian minister and a fly fisherman who tied his own flies and taught others. He told us about Christ's disciples being fishermen, and we were left to assume, as my brother and I did, that all first-class fishermen on the Sea of Galilee were fly fishermen and that John, the favorite, was a dry-fly fisherman.
Norman Maclean (A River Runs Through it and Other Stories)
When we truly understand what it means to love as Jesus Christ loves us, the confusion clears and our priorities align. Our walk as disciples of Christ becomes more joyful. Our lives take on new meaning. Our relationship with our Heavenly Father becomes more profound. Obedience becomes a joy rather than a burden.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf
The greatest issue facing the world today, with all its heartbreaking needs, is whether those who, by profession or culture, are identified as ‘Christians’ will become disciples – students, apprentices, practitioners – of Jesus Christ, steadily learning from him how to live the life of the Kingdom of the Heavens into every corner of human existence.
Dallas Willard (The Great Omission: Reclaiming Jesus's Essential Teachings on Discipleship)
If ye love me, keep my commandments." This is the essence of what it means to be a true disciple: those who receive Christ Jesus walk with him.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf
There was just such a man when I was young—an Austrian who invented a new way of life and convinced himself that he was the chap to make it work. He tried to impose his reformation by the sword, and plunged the civilized world into misery and chaos. But the thing which this fellow had overlooked, my friend, was that he had a predecessor in the reformation business, called Jesus Christ. Perhaps we may assume that Jesus knew as much as the Austrian did about saving people. But the odd thing is that Jesus did not turn the disciples into strom troopers, burn down the Temple at Jerusalem, and fix the blame on Pontius Pilate. On the contrary, he made it clear that the business of the philosopher was to make ideas available, and not to impose them on people.
T.H. White (The Once and Future King (The Once and Future King, #1-4))
Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks' wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church's inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing. Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of using and spending it are infinite. What would grace be if it were not cheap?... Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him. Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: "ye were bought at a price," and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (The Cost of Discipleship)
To me there is no more tragic sight than the average missionary. …We have given so much, yet not the one thing that counts; we aspire so high, and fall so low; we suffer so much, but so seldom with Christ; we have done so much and so little will remain; we have known Christ in part, and have so effectively barricaded our hearts against His mighty love, which surely He must yearn to give His disciples above all people.
Amy Carmichael (God's Missionary)
But in Friendship, being free of all that, we think we have chosen our peers. In reality, a few years' difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another, posting to different regiments, the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting—any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances. A secret Master of the Ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you," can truly say to every group of Christian friends "You have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another." The Friendship is not a reward for our discrimination and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of all the others. They are no greater than the beauties of a thousand other men; by Friendship God opens our eyes to them. They are, like all beauties, derived from Him, and then, in a good Friendship, increased by Him through the Friendship itself, so that it is His instrument for creating as well as for revealing.
C.S. Lewis (The Four Loves)
You and I won't ever find ourselves on that cross, but we repeatedly find ourselves at the foot of it. And how we act there will speak volumes about what we think of Christ's character and His call for us to be His disciples.
Jeffrey R. Holland (Created for Greater Things)
The Church is in the world, it is part of the suffering in the world, and though Christ condemned the disciple who struck off the ear of the high priest's servant, our hearts go out in sympathy to all who are moved to violence by the suffering of others. The Church condemns violence, but it condemns indifference more harshly. Violence can be the expression of love, indifference never. One is an imperfection of charity, the other the perfection of egoism.
Graham Greene (The Comedians)
Jesus said his disciples would be known for their love, not for their placards of protest and angry letters to the editor.
Brian Zahnd (Radical Forgiveness: God's Call to Unconditional Love)
i mean talk about decadence," he declared, "how decadent can a society get? Look at it this way. This country's probably the psychiatric, psychoanalytical capital of the world. Old Freud himself could never've dreamed up a more devoted bunch of disciples than the population of the United States - isn't that right? Our whole damn culture is geared to it; it's the new religion; it's everybody's intellectual and spiritual sugar-tit. And for all that, look what happens when a man really does blow his top. Call the Troopers, get him out of sight quick, hustle him off and lock him up before he wakes the neighbors. Christ's sake, when it comes to any kind of showdown we're still in the Middle Ages. It's as if everybody'd made this tacit agreement to live in a state of total self-deception. The hell with reality! Let's have a whole bunch of cute little winding roads and cute little houses painted white and pink and baby blue; let's all be good consumers and have a lot of Togetherness and bring our children up in a bath of sentimentality -- and if old reality ever does pop out and say Boo we'll all get busy and pretend it never happened.
Richard Yates (Revolutionary Road)
I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ," said President Hinckley. "How can any man holding the Melchizedek Priesthood arrogantly assume that he is eligible for the priesthood whereas another who lives a righteous life but whose skin is of a different color, is ineligible?
Gordon B. Hinckley
it was much less dangerous for the disciples of Christ to neglect the observance of the moral duties, than to despise the censures and authority of their bishops.
Edward Gibbon (The Christians and the Fall of Rome (Great Ideas))
The road that leads to heaven is risky, lonely, and costly in this world, and few are willing to pay the price. Following Jesus involves losing your life-and finding new life in him. Follow Me, pg. 11
David Platt
My fear is that of all the choices people face today, the one they rarely consider is, "How can I serve most effectively and fruitfully in the local church?" I wonder if the abundance of opportunities to explore today is doing less to help make well-rounded disciples of Christ and more to help Christians avoid long term responsibility and have less long-term impact.
Kevin DeYoung (Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will)
The Lord gave the wonderful promise of the free use of His Name with the Father in conjunction with doing His works. The disciple who lives only for Jesus' work and Kingdom, for His will and honor, will be given the power to appropriate the promise. Anyone grasping the promise only when he wants something very special for himself will be disappointed, because he is making Jesus the servant of his own comfort. But whoever wants to pray the effective prayer of faith because he needs it for the work of the Master will learn it, because he has made himself the servant of his Lord's interests.
Andrew Murray (With Christ in the School of Prayer)
If any man would come after me, let him deny himself." The disciple must say to himself the same words Peter said of Christ when he denied him: "I know not this man." Self-denial is never just a series of isolated acts of mortification or asceticism. It is not suicide, for there is an element of self-will even in that. To deny oneself is to be aware only of Christ and no more of self, to see only him who goes before and no more the road which is too hard for us. Once more, all that self denial can say is: "He leads the way, keep close to him.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (The Cost of Discipleship)
When we come to worship the God and Father of us all and to partake of the sacrament symbolizing the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we should be as comely and respectful, as dignified and appropriate as we can be. We should be recognizable in appearance as well as in behavior that we truly are disciples of Christ.
Jeffrey R. Holland (Created for Greater Things)
Suffering, then, is the badge of true discipleship. The disciple is not above his master. Following Christ means passio passiva, suffering because we have to suffer.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (The Cost of Discipleship)
Jesus of Nazareth always comes asking disciples to follow him--not merely "accept him," not merely "believe in him," not merely "worship him," but to follow him: one either follows Christ, or one does not. There is no compartmentalization of the faith, no realm, no sphere, no business, no politic in which the lordship of Christ will be excluded. We either make him Lord of all lords, or we deny him as Lord of any.
Lee C. Camp (Mere Discipleship: Radical Christianity in a Rebellious World)
Discipling our children is not about teaching them to behave in a way that won’t embarrass us. We’re working toward something much more important than that. We’re actually raising our children with a view toward leading them to trust and to follow Christ.
Voddie T. Baucham Jr. (Family Shepherds: Calling and Equipping Men to Lead Their Homes)
Fortunately Jesus didn't leave [the disciples]-or any of us-without hope or direction. Where we fail, Jesus succeeded. The only One who as able to recognize and follow His purpose from the beginning was Jesus. He alone was able to obey consistently and please God completely. And His divine mission was to make a way for each of us to do the same.
Charles R. Swindoll
Doctrine severed from practice is dead; practice severed from doctrine is just another form of self-salvation and self-improvement. A disciple of Christ is a student of theology.
Michael S. Horton (The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way)
We've taken the lifeblood out of Christianity and put Kool-Aid in its place so that it tastes better to the crowds, and the consequences are catastrophic. ~Follow Me, pg. 7
David Platt
The earthly form of Christ is the form that died on the cross. The image of God is the image of Christ crucified. It is to this image that the life of the disciples must be conformed; in other words, they must be conformed to his death (Phil 3.10, Rom 6.4) The Christian life is a life of crucifixion (Gal 2.19) In baptism the form of Christ's death is impressed upon his own. They are dead to the flesh and to sin, they are dead to the world, and the world is dead to them (Gal 6.14). Anybody living in the strength of Christ's baptism lives in the strength of Christ's death.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (The Cost of Discipleship)
But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances. A secret Master of the Ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you," can truly say to every group of Christian friends "You have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another." The Friendship is not a reward for our discrimination and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of all the others. They are no greater than the beauties of a thousand other men; by Friendship God opens our eyes to them. They are, like all beauties, derived from Him through the Friendship itself, so that it is His instrument for creating as well as for revealing. At this feast it is He who has spread the board and it is He who has chosen the guests. It is He, we may dare to hope, who sometimes does, and always should, preside. Let us not reckon without our Host.
C.S. Lewis (The Four Loves)
But first I want you to tell me this: do you know the power of love? Christ passed over all the marvellous works which were to be performed by the apostles and said, "By this shall men know that ye are my disciples, if ye love one another.
John Chrysostom
From now on a fire burned within us, as it did in the disciples on the road to Emmaus. “Snowflakes cannot fall on a hot stove,” says an Indian proverb. The coldness of this world could no longer harm us, although we had to pass through bitter times.
Richard Wurmbrand (Christ on the Jewish Road)
The Devil answer'd: bray a fool in a morter with wheat, yet shall not his folly be beaten out of him; if Jesus Christ is the greatest man, you ought to love him in the greatest degree; now hear how he has given his sanction to the law of ten commandments: did he not mock at the sabbath, and so mock the sabbaths God? murder those who were murder'd because of him? turn away the law from the woman taken in adultery? steal the labor of others to support him? bear false witness when he omitted making a defense before Pilate? covet when he pray'd for his disciples, and when he bid them shake off the dust of their feet against such as refused to lodge them? I tell you, no virtue can exist without breaking these ten commandments; Jesus was all virtue, and acted from impulse, not from rules.
William Blake (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell)
When people are not empowered to discover their identity and pursue their destiny in Christ, then they are not being discipled but used. They are not sons being fathered, but servants being given a job to do.
Graham Cooke (Permission Granted to Do Church Differently in the 21st Century)
Disciples of Jesus Christ understand that compared to eternity, our existence in this mortal sphere is only “a small moment” in space and time. They know that a person’s true value has little to do with what the world holds in high esteem. They know you could pile up the accumulated currency of the entire world and it could not buy a loaf of bread in the economy of heaven.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Saying #113, Christ's disciples ask, When will the kingdom come? Jesus replies, The kingdom of the Father will not come by expectation. The kingdom of the Father is spread upon the earth and men do not see it.
Anonymous
May we declare ourselves to be more fully disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, not in word only and not only in the flush of comfortable times but in deed and in courage and in faith, including when the path is lonely and when our cross is difficult to bear.
Jeffrey R. Holland (Created for Greater Things)
A man who is born again has a special love for all true disciples of Christ. Like his Father in heaven, he loves all men with a great general love, but he has a special love for those who share his faith in Christ. Like his Lord and Saviour, he loves the worst of sinners and could weep over them; but he has a peculiar love for those who are believers. He is never so much at home as when he is in their company.
J.C. Ryle (The Ryle Anthology (Chapel Library))
We are created in the image of our heavenly parents; we are God's spirit children. Therefore, we have a vast capacity for love—it is part of our spiritual heritage. What and how we love not only defines us as individuals; it also defines us as a church. Love is the defining characteristic of a disciple of Christ.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf
If Christ is the head of the church and we are the body, lets be disciples who master the noise.
Eric Samuel Timm (Static Jedi: The Art of Hearing God Through the Noise)
Does the gospel we preach produce disciples or does it produce consumers of religious goods and services?
Bill Hull (The Complete Book of Discipleship: On Being and Making Followers of Christ (The Navigators Reference Library 1))
The choice between James’s vision of a Jewish religion anchored in the Law of Moses and derived from a Jewish nationalist who fought against Rome, and Paul’s vision of a Roman religion that divorced itself from Jewish provincialism and required nothing for salvation save belief in Christ, was not a difficult one for the second and third generations of Jesus’s followers to make. Two thousand years later, the Christ of Paul’s creation has utterly subsumed the Jesus of history. The memory of the revolutionary zealot who walked across Galilee gathering an army of disciples with the goal of establishing the Kingdom of God on earth, the magnetic preacher who defied the authority of the Temple priesthood in Jerusalem, the radical Jewish nationalist who challenged the Roman occupation and lost, has been almost completely lost to history.
Reza Aslan (Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth)
There are many reasons to steer clear of  Christianity. No question. I fully understand why people make that choice. Christianity has survived some unspeakable abominations: the Crusades, clergy sex-scandals, papal corruption, televangelist scams, and clown ministry. But it will survive us, too. It will survive our mistakes and pride and exclusion of others. I believe that the power of  Christianity — the thing that made the very first disciples drop their nets and walk away from everything they knew, the thing that caused Mary Magdalene to return to the tomb and then announce the resurrection of Christ, the thing that the early Christians martyred themselves for, and the thing that keeps me in the Jesus business (or, what my Episcopal priest friend Paul calls “working for the company”) — is something that cannot be killed. The power of unbounded mercy, of what we call The Gospel, cannot be destroyed by corruption and toothy TV preachers. Because in the end, there is still Jesus.
Nadia Bolz-Weber (Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People)
...ideas are definitely unstable, they not only CAN be misused, they invite misuse--and the better the idea the more volatile it is. That's because only the better ideas turn into dogma, and it is this process whereby a fresh, stimulating, humanly helpful idea is changed into robot dogma that is deadly. In terms of hazardous vectors released, the transformation of ideas into dogma rivals the transformation of hydrogen into helium, uranium into lead, or innocence into corruption. And it is nearly as relentless. The problem starts at the secondary level, not with the originator or developer of the idea but with the people who are attracted by it, who adopt it, who cling to it until their last nail breaks, and who invariably lack the overview, flexibility, imagination, and most importantly, sense of humor, to maintain it in the spirit in which it was hatched. Ideas are made by masters, dogma by disciples, and the Buddha is always killed on the road. There is a particularly unattractive and discouragingly common affliction called tunnel vision, which, for all the misery it causes, ought to top the job list at the World Health Organization. Tunnel vision is a disease in which perception is restricted by ignorance and distorted by vested interest. Tunnel vision is caused by an optic fungus that multiplies when the brain is less energetic than the ego. It is complicated by exposure to politics. When a good idea is run through the filters and compressors of ordinary tunnel vision, it not only comes out reduced in scale and value but in its new dogmatic configuration produces effects the opposite of those for which it originally was intended. That is how the loving ideas of Jesus Christ became the sinister cliches of Christianity. That is why virtually every revolution in history has failed: the oppressed, as soon as they seize power, turn into the oppressors, resorting to totalitarian tactics to "protect the revolution." That is why minorities seeking the abolition of prejudice become intolerant, minorities seeking peace become militant, minorities seeking equality become self-righteous, and minorities seeking liberation become hostile (a tight asshole being the first symptom of self-repression).
Tom Robbins (Still Life with Woodpecker)
We were created to be full. When we're not filled with the good things Christ came to bring us, we will grasp at anything as a substitute. An unsatisfied soul is an accident waiting to happen.
Beth Moore (The Beloved Disciple: Following John to the Heart of Jesus)
Jesus never concealed the fact that his religion included a demand as well as an offer. Indeed, the demand was as total as the offer was free. If he offered men his salvation, he also demanded their submission. He gave no encouragement whatever to thoughtless applicants for discipleship. He brought no pressure to bear on any inquirer. He sent irresponsible enthusiasts away empty. Luke tells of three men who either volunteered, or were invited, to follow Jesus; but no one passed the Lord’s test. The rich young ruler, too, moral, earnest and attractive, who wanted eternal life on his own terms, went away sorrowful, with his riches intact but with neither life nor Christ as his possession…The Christian landscape is strewn with the wreckage of derelict, half built towers—the ruins of those who began to build and were unable to finish. For thousands of people still ignore Christ’s warning and undertake to follow him without first pausing to reflect on the cost of doing so. The result is the great scandal of Christendom today, so called “nominal Christianity.” In countries to which Christian civilization has spread, large numbers of people have covered themselves with a decent, but thin, veneer of Christianity. They have allowed themselves to become somewhat involved, enough to be respectable but not enough to be uncomfortable. Their religion is a great, soft cushion. It protects them from the hard unpleasantness of life, while changing its place and shape to suit their convenience. No wonder the cynics speak of hypocrites in the church and dismiss religion as escapism…The message of Jesus was very different. He never lowered his standards or modified his conditions to make his call more readily acceptable. He asked his first disciples, and he has asked every disciple since, to give him their thoughtful and total commitment. Nothing less than this will do
John R.W. Stott (Basic Christianity)
...if a person remains in a state of unforgiveness the Spirit of the Lord will allow tormentors to enter him. That's what Christ told Peter when the disciple asked, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" (Matt. 18:21).
Benny Hinn (Good Morning, Holy Spirit)
True disciples of Jesus Christ have always been concerned for the one. Jesus Christ is our greatest example. He was surrounded by multitudes and spoke to thousands, yet He always had concern for the one.
Joseph B. Wirthlin
When Christ comes, the members of His Church must look and act like members of His Church are supposed to look and act if we are to be acceptable to Him. We must be doing His work and we must be living his teachings. He must recognize us quickly and easily as truly being his disciples.
Jeffrey R. Holland (Created for Greater Things)
The rock, when one came to think of it, was the utmost expression of human need; even mere feeling yearned for it; it was the highest comparison of loyalty in love and friendship. Christ Himself had used that comparison for the disciple to whom He gave the keys of His Church. And the Hebrews of the Old Testament, always being carried captive into foreign lands,--their rock was an idea of God, the only thing their conquerors could not take from them.
Willa Cather (Death Comes for the Archbishop)
I wonder if Peter was chosen not for being the most perfect among the disciples (John is the beloved disciple to whom Christ entrusts his own mother) but for being the one who was most willing to bring his imperfections to God for correction.
Leah Libresco (Arriving at Amen: Seven Catholic Prayers That Even I Can Offer)
Being a “Christian” – a word used only three times in the New Testament – is not Jesus’ goal for his people. But the making of a community of revolutionary followers or “disciples” – a word used nearly three hundred times in the New Testament – seems to be exactly the goal. The church must return to these roots. The church must become a way of life, an alternative lifestyle, a counter-community of Christ-followers. Church must once again become a people who are on “The Way” formed by the words and way of Jesus.
Ronnie McBrayer (The Jesus Tribe: Following Christ in the Land of the Empire)
When our Lord said to the disciples, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19), His reference was not to the skilled angler, but to those who use the drag-net--something which requires practically no skill; the point being that you do not have to watch your "fish," but you have to do the simple thing and God will do the rest. The pseudo-evangelical line is that you must be on the watch all the time and lose no oportunity of speaking to people, and this attitude is apt to produce the superior person. It may be a noble enough point of view, but it produces the wrong kind of character. It does not produce a disciple of Jesus, but too often it produces the kind of person who smells of gunpowder and people are afraid of meeting him. According to Jesus Christ, what we have to do is to watch the source and He will look after the outflow: "He that believeth on me,...out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38).
Oswald Chambers (Our Ultimate Refuge: Job and the Problem of Suffering)
A dying man asked a dying man for eternal life; a man without possessions asked a poor man for a Kingdom; a thief at the door of death asked to die like a thief and steal Paradise. One would have thought a saint would have been the first soul purchased over the counter of Calvary by the red coins of Redemption, but in the Divine plan it was a thief who was the escort of the King of kings into Paradise. If Our Lord had come merely as a teacher, the thief would never have asked for forgiveness. But since the thief's request touched the reason of His coming to earth, namely, to save souls, the thief heard the immediate answer: 'I promise thee, this day thou shalt be With Me in Paradise' (Luke 23:43) It was the thief's last prayer, perhaps even his first. He knocked once, sought once, asked once, dared everything, and found everything. When even the disciples were doubting and only one was present at the Cross, the thief owned and acknowledged Him as Saviour.
Fulton J. Sheen (Life of Christ)
Describing Francis as the truly humble person, Bonaventure writes: “As Christ’s disciple he strove to regard himself as worthless in his own eyes and those of others. He used to make this statement frequently: ‘What a person is before God, that he is and no more.’”34
Ilia Delio (Franciscan Prayer)
Christ's disciples were no orators, till the Spirit made them such.
Matthew Henry (Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible (Unabridged))
Disciples are those who have been so ravished with Christ that others want to be like them.
Dallas Willard (Living in Christ's Presence: Final Words on Heaven and the Kingdom of God)
If we are going to persevere as committed disciples of Jesus Christ over the course of our lives, we must always keep the gospel of God’s forgiveness through Christ before us.
Jerry Bridges (The Discipline of Grace: God's Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness)
If we claim to be Christian, we must be like Christ.
John R.W. Stott (The Radical Disciple: Some Neglected Aspects of Our Calling)
Christian identity, the role disciples have been called to play, requires being with others. It takes two or three gathered in Christ’s name fully to represent him. It takes a company.
Kevin J. Vanhoozer (Faith Speaking Understanding: Performing the Drama of Doctrine)
Over against the challenges of pluralism, we are to be a community of truth, standing up for the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. Over against the challenge of materialism, we are to be a community of simplicity and pilgrimage. Over against the challenge of relativism, we are to be a community of obedience. Over the challenge of narcissism, we are to be a community of love.
John R.W. Stott (The Radical Disciple: Some Neglected Aspects of Our Calling)
The resurrection does not consist merely of the appearances of Jesus to his disciples after his death. Many think that these appearances in Galilee and Jerusalem are the resurrection. But they are simply to confirm the faith of the disciples. The real resurrection is the passing beyond the world altogether. It is Jesus' passage from this world to the Father. It was not an event in space and time, but the passage beyond space and time to the eternal, to reality. Jesus passed into reality. That is our starting point. It is into that world that we are invited to enter by meditation. We do not have to wait for physical death, but we can enter now into that eternal world. We have to go beyond the outer appearances of the senses and beyond the concepts of the mind, and open ourselves to the reality of Christ within, the Christ of the resurrection.
Bede Griffiths (The New Creation in Christ)
Committing myself to the task of becoming fully human is saving my life now...to become fully human is something extra, a conscious choice that not everyone makes. Based on my limited wisdom and experience, there is more than one way to do this. If I were a Buddhist, I might do it by taking the bodhisattva vow, and if I were a Jew, I might do it by following Torah. Because I am a Christian, I do it by imitating Christ, although i will be the first to admit that I want to stop about a day short of following him all the way. In Luke's gospel, there comes a point when he turns around and says to the large crowd of those trailing after him, "Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple" (14:26). Make of that what you will, but I think it was his way of telling them to go home. He did not need people to go to Jerusalem to die with him. He needed people to go back where they came from and live the kinds of lives that he had risked his own life to show them: lives of resisting the powers of death, of standing up for the little and the least, of turning cheeks and washing feet, of praying for enemies and loving the unlovable.
Barbara Brown Taylor (Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith)
Being a member of a church means realizing that we are responsible for helping the brothers and sisters around us to grow as disciples of Jesus. In the same way, they are responsible for helping us. We desperately need each other in the daily fight to follow Christ in a world that’s full of sin.
David Platt (What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said Follow Me?)
the doves, as we know, must be killed according to the law before Mary’s purification can be acknowledged and ratified. Any ironic or irreverent disciple of Voltaire will find it difficult to resist making the obvious remark that, things being what they are, purity can be maintained only so long as there are innocent creatures to sacrifice in this world, whether turtledoves, lambs, or others.
José Saramago (The Gospel According to Jesus Christ)
Disciples of Jesus do not mimic Jesus; we manifest him. We are personators of Christ, not impersonators. Christ’s presence in our lives is more “thereness” than “likeness,” more “withness” than “whatness.” Jesus made our creation in the imago Dei more “spit” than “image” (as in “spit ‘n’ image”).
Leonard Sweet (The Well-Played Life: Why Pleasing God Doesn't Have to Be Such Hard Work)
the Son of God told his disciples to baptize “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). “Name,” note, not “names”: the three persons together constitute the one God.
J.I. Packer (Growing in Christ)
Surely we can only come to understand each other's beliefs by means of direct encounter and open, honest discussion. In the meantime, many free churches invite all believers in Jesus Christ to the Table for the sake of true spiritual unity that transcends intellectual differences of interpretation. Withholding sacramental sharing on the basis of disagreement about the nature of the Lord's Supper seems odd to us. What two people think exactly alike about the act? We are not offended by Catholics' closed Communion, but we find it odd and exclusive. It places intellectual understanding above fellowship among disciples of Jesus Christ.
Roger E. Olson
One is respected in a community to the extent, and only to the extent, that he or she respects his own position in life. There are doctors, lawyers, and even clergymen who are a disgrace to humanity, and the disciples of Christ were lowly fishermen. I would not, for all the world, have any one of you children grow up to feel that you were less than equal in every way to any other human being who walks the face of the earth.
Ralph Moody (Mary Emma & Company (Little Britches, #4))
Atheistic New Testament scholar Gerd Ludemann concludes, "It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus' death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ."6R
Gary R. Habermas (The Case For The Resurrection Of Jesus)
Anyone who would be a disciple of Christ kneels sometime at [our own] Gethsemane. But . . . we need not stay. We can find the courage to surrender, to accept the gift of the Savior, who already suffered there; we can stand and move on to another garden. Grace [and the Atonement] offer[s] the quiet promise of that safe passage.
Elaine Sorensen Marshall
That is why Christ never said, 'by the amount of focus you put on worshiping me, people will know you are my disciples.' No, what he said was, 'People will know you are my disciples by the love you have for one another.' God
Mick Mooney (An Outsider's Guide to the Gospel)
Making disciples by going, baptizing, and teaching people the Word of Christ and then enabling them to do the same thing in other people’s lives—this is the plan God has for each of us to impact nations for the glory of Christ.
David Platt (Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream)
The greatest gift a church can receive is to have a group of families who take their responsibilities with such Christian seriousness that they are willing to completely alter their lifestyle to raise up disciples for Jesus Christ.
Abraham Kuyper, attrib.
When Jesus commanded, “Make disciples,” he wasn’t simply referring to converts. He wants followers who follow — people who submit to his teachings and his ways. But because we’ve preached a different gospel, a vast throng of people think they are Christian/saved/born again when they really aren’t! We’ve made the test for salvation doctrinal rather than behavioral, ritualizing it with walking the aisle, praying to receive Christ, or signing a doctrinal statement.
Bill Hull (The Complete Book of Discipleship: On Being and Making Followers of Christ (The Navigators Reference Library 1))
The invitation to repent is rarely a voice of chastisement but rather a loving appeal to turn around and to “re-turn” toward God.14 It is the beckoning of a loving Father and His Only Begotten Son to be more than we are, to reach up to a higher way of life, to change, and to feel the happiness of keeping the commandments. Being disciples of Christ, we rejoice in the blessing of repenting and the joy of being forgiven. They become part of us, shaping the way we think and feel.
Neil L. Anderson
Discipling in the gospel means that sometimes you lead the way in confessing weakness or sin. By doing so, you demonstrate what it looks like not to find your justification in yourself, but in Christ. And so you live transparently and honestly.
Mark Dever (Discipling: How to Help Others Follow Jesus (9marks: Building Healthy Churches))
If we want that power to quicken our friends who are dead in sin, we must look to God, and not be looking to man to do it. If we look alone to ministers, if we look alone to Christ’s disciples to do this work, we shall be disappointed. If we look to the Spirit of God and expect it to come from Him and Him alone, then we shall honor the Spirit, and the Spirit will do
Jim Cymbala (Fresh Power)
Does the twentieth-century disciple have a right to discard the cultural mandate, twice given to the human race by Jehovah himself? Are we justified in turning the world and culture over to the enemies of God> How far does the kingship of Christ extend?
Henry R. Van Til (The Calvinistic Concept Of Culture)
This raises the bar in our own Christianity. In order to teach someone else how to pray, we need to know how to pray. In order to help someone else learn how to study the Bible, we need to be active in studying the Bible. But this is the beauty of making disciples. When we take responsibility for helping others grow in Christ, it automatically takes our own relationship with Christ to a new level.
David Platt (Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream)
For what was your gesture? An act of pure love for Jesus particularly. It was an act so completely focused upon the Christ that not a dram of worldly benefit was gained thereby. Nothing could justify the spillage of some three hundred days' wages, except love alone. [...] The disciples, in fact, were offended by an act that produced nothing, accomplished nothing, fed no poor, served no need. They reproached you as a wastrel. They were offended by the absurd, an act devoted absolutely to love, to love alone. But Jesus called it 'beautiful.
Walter Wangerin Jr. (Reliving the Passion: Meditations on the Suffering, Death, and the Resurrection of Jesus as Recorded in Mark.)
When we stand before Christ and He evaluates our ministries, He will not be asking us how many people sat in the pews, watched our TV programs, gave in our telethons or filled out response cards. He is not going to evaluate us based on how many people fell under the power of God or how many healings we counted in each service. He will ask how many faithful disciples we made. I pray we make this our priority.
J. Lee Grady
We are not Christian “part-time,” only at certain moments, in certain circumstances, in certain decisions; no one can be Christian in this way. We are Christian all the time! Totally! May Christ’s truth, which the Holy Spirit teaches us and gives to us, always and totally affect our daily life. Let us call on him more often so that he may guide us on the path of disciples of Christ. Let us call on him every day. I am making this suggestion to you: let us invoke the Holy Spirit every day; in this way the Holy Spirit will bring us close to Jesus Christ.
Pope Francis (The Church of Mercy)
When Christ called disciples, he did not say, “Come, have a personal relationship with me.” No, he simply said, “Follow me.” Hear the difference? Follow me suggests a mission. A goal. But a personal relationship with Jesus suggests we’re headed to Starbucks for some couple time.
David Murrow (Why Men Hate Going to Church)
As Paul argues, it is the righteousness of God that is revealed in the law, and this condemns us all (Ro 1:18 – 3:20), while the gospel reveals the righteousness from God, namely, that we “are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Ro 3:24).
Michael S. Horton (Pilgrim Theology: Core Doctrines for Christian Disciples)
We should not expect the Church as an organization to teach or tell us all of the things we need t know and do to become devoted disciples and endure valiantly to the end (see Doctrine and Covenants 121:29). The moral agency afforded to all of Father's children through the plan of salvation and the Atonement of Jesus Christ is divinely designed to facilitate our individual and independent learning, acting, and, ultimately, becoming
David A. Bednar (Power to Become: Spiritual Patterns for Pressing Forward with a Steadfastness in Christ (Spiritual Patterns, #3))
Yet somehow many have come to believe that a person can be a “Christian” without being like Christ. A “follower” who doesn’t follow. How does that make any sense? Many people in the church have decided to take on the name of Christ and nothing else. This would be like Jesus walking up to those first disciples and saying, “Hey, would you guys mind identifying yourselves with Me in some way? Don’t worry, I don’t actually care if you do anything I do or change your lifestyle at all. I’m just looking for people who are willing to say they believe in Me and call themselves Christians.
Francis Chan (Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples)
As Christ is Christ only as the suffering and rejected one, so the disciple is a disciple only as one who suffers and is rejected, as one crucified with Jesus. Discipleship, understood as being bound to the person of Jesus Christ, places the disciple under the law of Christ, that is, under the cross.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (God Is on the Cross: Reflections on Lent and Easter)
Despite our earnest efforts, we couldn't climb all the way up to God. So what did God do? In an amazing act of condescension, on Good Friday, God climbed down to us, became one with us. The story of divine condescension begins on Christmas and ends on Good Friday. We thought, if there is to be business between us and God, we must somehow get up to God. Then God came down, down to the level of the cross, all the way down to the depths of hell. He who knew not sin took on our sin so that we might be free of it. God still stoops, in your life and mine, condescends. “Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” he asked his disciples, before his way up Golgotha. Our answer is an obvious, “No!” His cup is not only the cup of crucifixion and death, it is the bloody, bloody cup that one must drink if one is going to get mixed up in us. Any God who would wander into the human condition, any God who has this thirst to pursue us, had better not be too put off by pain, for that's the way we tend to treat our saviors. Any God who tries to love us had better be ready to die for it. As Chesterton writes, “Any man who preaches real love is bound to beget hate … Real love has always ended in bloodshed.
William H. Willimon (Thank God It's Friday: Encountering the Seven Last Words from the Cross)
Godly marriages and their fruit of faithful children change the world. Thus, the first job of Christian parents is to evangelize and disciple their own children. Their children are their closest neighbors, the poor and needy among them, who need the gospel. Raising godly children spreads the kingdom of Christ
Elise Crapuchettes (Popes and Feminists: How the Reformation Frees Women from Feminism)
Sadly, prosperity is not the only reason people forget God. It can also be hard to remember Him when our lives go badly. When we struggle, as so many do, in grinding poverty or when our enemies prevail against us or when sickness is not healed, the enemy of our souls can send his evil message that there is no God or that if He exists He does not care about us. Then it can be hard for the Holy Ghost to bring to our remembrance the lifetime of blessings the Lord has given us from our infancy and in the midst of our distress. There is a simple cure for the terrible malady of forgetting God, His blessings, and His messages to us. Jesus Christ promised it to His disciples when He was about to be crucified, resurrected, and then taken away from them to ascend in glory to His Father. They were concerned to know how they would be able to endure when He was no longer with them. Here is the promise. It was fulfilled for them then. It can be fulfilled for all of us now.
Henry B. Eyring
The primary purpose of a home is to reflect and to distribute the love of Christ. Anything that usurps that is idolatrous. Having been lifted beyond the prejudice of culture, Jesus repositioned for the disciples the place of wealth. So staggering was the impact that many of them in the years to come would leave their own homes to go to distant parts of the world in order to proclaim the heaven-sent message that redefined their earthly homes. Eleven of them paid for that message with their lives. The
Ravi Zacharias (Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message)
The Christian knows to serve the weak not because they deserve it but because God extended his love to us when we deserved the opposite. Christ came down from heaven, and whenever his disciples entertained dreams of prestige and power he reminded them that the greatest is the one who serves. The ladder of power reaches up, the ladder of grace reaches down.
Philip Yancey (What's So Amazing About Grace?)
But my disciples shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved; but among the wicked, men shall lift up their voices and curse God and die.
Joseph Smith Jr. (The Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
John 13 35 The Holy Bible
Believers think only prominent ministers can have followers, but actually, every believer can and should have a few or at least one newer or younger believer as a disciple.
Henry Hon (ONE: Unfolding God's Eternal Purpose from House to House)
There is more security, in fact, with Christ in the middle of a stormy sea than without Christ in the warm stillness of our bathtub.
Jared C. Wilson (The Imperfect Disciple: Grace for People Who Can't Get Their Act Together)
But what kind of love is this that is so unaware of itself that it can be hidden until the day of judgement? The answer is obvious. Because love is hidden it cannot be a visible virtue or a habit which can be acquired. Take heed, it says, that you do not exchange true love for an amiable virtuousness, a human "quality." Genuine love is always self-forgetful in the true sense of the word. But if we are to have it, our old man must die with all his virtues and qualities, and this can only be done where the disciple forgets self and clings solely to Christ.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (The Cost of Discipleship)
A man who visits a barber to be shaved, or who orders a suit from a tailor, is not a disciple, but a customer. So one who comes to the Savior only to be saved is the Savior’s customer, not His disciple. A disciple is one who says to Christ, ‘How I long to do work like Yours! To go from place to place taking away fear; bringing instead joy, truth, comfort, and life eternal!
Richard Wurmbrand (In God's Underground)
The heads of the Church ought therefore to imitate Christ in being affable, adapting Himself to women, laying His hands on children, and washing His disciples’ feet, that they also should do the same to their brethren. But we are such, that we seem to go beyond the pride even of the great ones of this world; as to the command of Christ, either not understanding it, or setting it at nought. Like princes we seek hosts to go before us, we make ourselves awful and difficult of access, especially to the poor, neither approaching them, nor suffering them to approach us.
Thomas Aquinas (Catena Aurea: Volume 1-4)
Jesus' own moral discipline was rooted in His discipleship to the Father. To His disciples He explained, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work”. By this same pattern, our moral discipline is rooted in loyalty and devotion to the Father and the Son. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ that provides the moral certainty upon which moral discipline rests.
D. Todd Christofferson
A disciple motivated by the spiritual license drinks from the empty cup of spiritual freedom. Gospel-centered disciples drink deeply from the cup of costly grace and fight to live lives of obedience to King Jesus. Faith in the gospel actually makes us slaves to Christ, who frees us from sin and graciously binds us to his side. At his side, we discover a better God and enjoy a more gracious Master. Spiritual license deceives us by saying: Because God has forgiven me, I'am free to disobey. The truth of the gospel is Because God has forgiven me in Christ, I am bound to obey.
Jonathan K. Dodson
The disciple living by grace rather than law has undergone a decisive conversion—a turning from mistrust to trust. The foremost characteristic of living by grace is trust in the redeeming work of Jesus Christ.
Brennan Manning (The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out)
The knowledge of our union with Christ...gives us confidence in prayer. It was when Jesus had begun to expound the closeness of this union that he also began to introduce the disciples to the true heart of prayer. If Christ abides in us and we abide in him, as his word dwells in us, and we pray in his name, that God hears us (Jn 15:4-7). But all of these expressions are simply extensions of the one fundamental idea: If I am united to Christ, then all that is his is mine. So long as my heart, will and mind are one with Christ's in his word, I can approach God with the humble confidence that my prayers will be heard and answered.
Sinclair B. Ferguson (The Christian Life: A Doctrinal Introduction)
Here see the opposite disposition between the holy nature of Christ, and the impure nature of man. Man for a little smoke will quench the light; Christ ever we see cherisheth even the least beginnings. How bare he with the many imperfections of his poor disciples. If he did sharply check them, it was in love, and that they might shine the brighter. Can we have a better pattern to follow than this of him by whom we hope to be saved?
Richard Sibbes (The Bruised Reed)
Now there was only one hope, the sovereign grace of God. God would have to transform my heart to do what a heart cannot make itself do, namely, want what it ought to want. Only God can make the depraved heart desire God. Once when Jesus’ disciples wondered about the salvation of a man who desired money more than God, he said to them, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27). Pursuing what we want is possible. It is easy. It is a pleasant kind of freedom. But the only freedom that lasts is pursuing what we want when we want what we ought. And it is devastating to discover we don’t, and we can’t.
John Piper (When I Don't Desire God: How to Fight for Joy)
He told them therefore that He was not a Teacher asking for a disciple who would parrot His sayings; He was a Saviour Who first disturbed a conscience and then purified it. But many would never get beyond hating the disturber. The Light is no boon, except to those who are men of good will; their lives may be evil, but at least they want to be good. His Presence, He said, was a threat to sensuality, avarice, and lust. When a man has lived in a dark cave for years, his eyes cannot stand the light of the sun; so the man who refuses to repent turns against mercy. No one can prevent the sun from shining, but every man can pull down the blinds and shut it out.
Fulton J. Sheen (Life of Christ)
In the 56 years I have been a disciple of and in union with Jesus Christ and in my opinion, John Wimber was the most authentic, humble, accessible, and anointed 'Christ-like' man I have ever known." ~R. Alan Woods [2013]
R. Alan Woods (John Wimber: Naturally Supernatural)
Instructing people to obey Christ’s commands is part of the Great Commission. It’s not enough to teach the facts about Christ, we are to teach, exhort, and train disciples to obey and live according to the commands of Christ.
Alexander Strauch (Leading With Love)
—A MOTHER’S PRAYER— Father of Encouragement Thank you for taking the time to show love to your disciples by affirming and encouraging them. Help us remember that our well-aimed words will carry life to the hearts of our children. Teach us to extol their positive characteristics whenever we can and to resist the temptation to use words only for correction. Give us lips that speak grace and that show the heart of your love through the things we say. Amen
Sally Clarkson (The Ministry of Motherhood: Following Christ's Example in Reaching the Hearts of Our Children)
Christians know by experience that true religion is a union of the soul with God, a real participation in the divine nature, the very image of God drawn upon the soul, or, in the apostle's phrase, "it is Christ formed within us".
Henry Scougal (Life of God in the Soul of Man)
During the age of Christ, of his apostles, and of their first disciples, the doctrine which they preached was confirmed by innumerable prodigies. The lame walked, the blind saw, the sick were healed, the dead were raised, daemons were expelled, and the laws of Nature were frequently suspended for the benefit of the church [...] But the sages of Greece and Rome turned aside from the awful spectacle, and, pursuing the ordinary occupations of life and study, appeared unconscious of any alterations in the moral or physical government of the world. Under the reign of Tiberius, the whole earth, or at least a celebrated province of the Roman empire, was involved in a preternatural darkness of three hours. Even this miraculous event, which ought to have excited the wonder, the curiosity, and the devotion of mankind, passed without notice in an age of science and history. It happened during the lifetime of Seneca and the elder Pliny, who must have experienced the immediate effects, or received the earliest intelligence, of the prodigy. Each of these philosophers, in a laborious work, has recorded all the great phenomena of Nature, earthquakes, meteors, comets, and eclipses, which his indefatigable curiosity could collect. Both the one and the other have omitted to mention the greatest phenomenon to which the mortal eye has been witness since the creation of the globe.
Edward Gibbon (The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Volume I)
All too frequently in today's world, a Christian is defined on the basis of the horizontal relationship between oneself and "neighbor" rather than the vertical relationship with Deity. In this distorted view of Christianity, our relationship with others becomes more important than loving God, having faith in Christ, and being a devoted disciple of His gospel. If God isn't first, sooner or later He will simply be a nice embellishment to our lives. When we put God first, we are empowered to love each other better, even if our love is not at first understood. The trouble is that too often we ignore things that should be first in our lives and go after secondary things, thereby losing both.
Camille Fronk Olson (Mary, Martha, And Me: Seeking the One Thing That Is Needful)
Scripture teaches us that there is not one truth on which Christ insisted more frequently, both with His disciples and with those who came seeking His help, than the absolute necessity of faith and its unlimited possibilities. Experience has taught us that there is nothing in which we come so short as the simple and absolute trust in God to fulfill literally in us all that He has promised. A life in the abiding presence must of necessity be a life of unceasing faith.
Andrew Murray (The Believer's Secret of the Abiding Presence (The Andrew Murray devotional library))
Jesus’s use of the phrasing “a new commandment” is frequently scanted in light of its implicit ramifications. Because Jesus at the Last Supper has executed the “new covenant” with his disciples, the Great Commandment itself now acquires an unprecedented meaning. Its new meaning belongs to this sudden revelation not merely about who God is but also about what love is. Previously the Great Commandment bade us to love God and our neighbor. Now this love can be comprehended only in an incarnational situation. Its incarnate presence is the activation of profound rhizomic relations that explode from the center toward the ends of the earth. We are commanded to be incarnational in relation to one another just as God at the cross was incarnational in Christ. . . . We are no longer simply Christ’s “followers" - the pre-Easter form of relation to a master-and-teacher that is conventionally called “disciple” - but also perpetual Christ incarnators . . .
Carl Raschke (GloboChrist: The Great Commission Takes a Postmodern Turn (The Church and Postmodern Culture))
Never disregard a conviction that the Holy Spirit brings to you. If it is important enough for the Spirit of God to bring it to your mind, it is the very thing He is detecting in you. You were looking for some big thing to give up, while God is telling you of some tiny thing that must go. But behind that tiny thing lies the stronghold of obstinacy, and you say, “I will not give up my right to myself”—the very thing that God intends you to give up if you are to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Oswald Chambers (My Utmost for His Highest)
Matchevici answered, “I don’t wish to remain alive and be ashamed to look in a mirror, because I will see the face of a traitor. I cannot accept such a condition. I prefer to die.” The officer of the secret police shook Matchevici’s hand and said, “I congratulate you. I didn’t expect any other answer from you. But I would like to make another proposal. Some of the prisoners have become our informers. They claim to be Commu­nist and they are denouncing you. They play a double role. We have no confidence in them. We would like to know in what measure they are sincere. Toward you they are traitors who are doing you much harm, informing us about your words and deeds. I understand that you don’t want to betray your comrades. But give us information about those who oppose you so you will save your life!” Matchevici answered, as promptly as the first time, “I am a disciple of Christ and He has taught us to love even our enemies. The men who betray us do us much harm but I cannot reward evil with evil. I cannot give information even against them. I pity them. I pray for them. I don’t wish to have any connection with the Communists.” Matche­vici came back from the discussion with the political officer and died in the same cell I was in. I saw him die—he was praising God. Love conquered even the natural thirst for life.
Richard Wurmbrand (Tortured for Christ)
Here we have another instance of an Old Testament law finding its truest fulfilment in the crucified body of Jesus Christ. As they contemplate this body which was given for them, and as they share its life, the disciples receive strength for the chastity which Jesus requires.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (The Cost of Discipleship (SCM Classics))
Remember, Christ willed to be born poor, and He chose disciples who were living, for the most part, in poverty. Christ made Himself a servant of poor people. And He reminds us that whatever we do to help the least of the brethren--those most poor--we are personally ministering to Him.
Joni Eareckson Tada
The essential mark of maturity in Christians—as in peach trees—is generativity. Mature faith bears fruit. Mature Christians are branches on which God’s love is multiplied and offered for the nourishment of others. As Jesus pointed out, “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples” (John 15:8). By nurturing and offering the life-giving fruits of the Spirit (e.g., love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control [Gal. 5:22–23]), we become branches of divine grace, vehicles Christ uses to extend himself to others.
Kenda Creasy Dean (Almost Christian : What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church)
Exoneration of Jesus Christ If Christ was in fact God, he knew all the future. Before Him like a panorama moved the history yet to be. He knew how his words would be interpreted. He knew what crimes, what horrors, what infamies, would be committed in his name. He knew that the hungry flames of persecution would climb around the limbs of countless martyrs. He knew that thousands and thousands of brave men and women would languish in dungeons in darkness, filled with pain. He knew that his church would invent and use instruments of torture; that his followers would appeal to whip and fagot, to chain and rack. He saw the horizon of the future lurid with the flames of the auto da fe. He knew what creeds would spring like poisonous fungi from every text. He saw the ignorant sects waging war against each other. He saw thousands of men, under the orders of priests, building prisons for their fellow-men. He saw thousands of scaffolds dripping with the best and bravest blood. He saw his followers using the instruments of pain. He heard the groans—saw the faces white with agony. He heard the shrieks and sobs and cries of all the moaning, martyred multitudes. He knew that commentaries would be written on his words with swords, to be read by the light of fagots. He knew that the Inquisition would be born of the teachings attributed to him. He saw the interpolations and falsehoods that hypocrisy would write and tell. He saw all wars that would be waged, and-he knew that above these fields of death, these dungeons, these rackings, these burnings, these executions, for a thousand years would float the dripping banner of the cross. He knew that hypocrisy would be robed and crowned—that cruelty and credulity would rule the world; knew that liberty would perish from the earth; knew that popes and kings in his name would enslave the souls and bodies of men; knew that they would persecute and destroy the discoverers, thinkers and inventors; knew that his church would extinguish reason’s holy light and leave the world without a star. He saw his disciples extinguishing the eyes of men, flaying them alive, cutting out their tongues, searching for all the nerves of pain. He knew that in his name his followers would trade in human flesh; that cradles would be robbed and women’s breasts unbabed for gold. And yet he died with voiceless lips. Why did he fail to speak? Why did he not tell his disciples, and through them the world: “You shall not burn, imprison and torture in my name. You shall not persecute your fellow-men.” Why did he not plainly say: “I am the Son of God,” or, “I am God”? Why did he not explain the Trinity? Why did he not tell the mode of baptism that was pleasing to him? Why did he not write a creed? Why did he not break the chains of slaves? Why did he not say that the Old Testament was or was not the inspired word of God? Why did he not write the New Testament himself? Why did he leave his words to ignorance, hypocrisy and chance? Why did he not say something positive, definite and satisfactory about another world? Why did he not turn the tear-stained hope of heaven into the glad knowledge of another life? Why did he not tell us something of the rights of man, of the liberty of hand and brain? Why did he go dumbly to his death, leaving the world to misery and to doubt? I will tell you why. He was a man, and did not know.
Robert G. Ingersoll
It seems a lot of Christians are quick to condemn the world and write its inhabitants off as lost causes. It’s odd, though, Jesus never did. He healed and lovingly confronted. Jesus engaged and walked among his enemies, not to breathe fire upon them, but to breathe life into them. He could only change their lives through being part of their lives. He didn’t write books, he didn’t constrain his preaching to just the synagogues. He didn’t stand aloof bad mouthing the world and his enemies to his disciples in the safety of an insular compound. No, Jesus deliberately walked and lived amongst those he came to serve.
Katherine J. Walden
The lordship of Christ is basic to our defense of Christianity. Christ now reigns. He is Lord. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him. That authority is the prerequisite to the command to make disciples. Without that authority, baptism and disciple making in and for the church are meaningless.
K. Scott Oliphint (Covenantal Apologetics: Principles and Practice in Defense of Our Faith)
Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.” Note the “I Am.” In the Greek it is the strongest possible form of expression – Ego Eimi. Both ego and eimi mean “I am” but the former puts the emphasis on the “I” while the latter puts it on the “am.” Taken together they are the strongest Greek form to express the name of God as the great “I AM.” That is how the risen Christ here refers to Himself. “Lo, I AM with you!” But there is a lovely feature in the Greek construction here which does not reveal itself in our English translation. It reads like this: “And lo, I with you AM…” You and I dear fellow believer, are in between the “I” and the “AM.” He is not only with us, He is all around us. Not only now and then, but “always” which literally translated is, “all the days” … this day, this hour, this moment. Why, when we reflect on it, were not our Lord’s sudden appearings & disappearings during the 40 days between His resurrection and His ascension meant to teach those early disciples (and ourselves) this very thing, that even when He is invisible He is none the less present, hearing, watching, knowing, sympathizing, overruling? Let us never forget that the special promise of His presence is given in connection with our going forth as winners of others to Him.
J. Sidlow Baxter (Baxter's Explore the Book)
Christ paints the Father in the most beautiful of hues!  According to Jesus, He is a God who is delighted at the sight of little children, goes out of His way to converse with the marginalized, turns water into wine to keep the party going, and who brushes aside religious laws in the name of showing mercy to sinners.  He pardons the adulterous without being asked, takes tax collectors as His disciples, and dines with scam artists and traitors.  He places His disciples’ wellbeing above the sacred nature of the Sabbath, brings healing to His nation’s foreign occupiers, and assures us that violence is never the way that God solves His problems. 
Jeff Turner (Saints in the Arms of a Happy God)
For the first time I understood the dogma of eternal pain -- appreciated "the glad tidings of great joy." For the first time my imagination grasped the height and depth of the Christian horror. Then I said: "It is a lie, and I hate your religion. If it is true, I hate your God." From that day I have had no fear, no doubt. For me, on that day, the flames of hell were quenched. From that day I have passionately hated every orthodox creed. That Sermon did some good. In the Old Testament, they said. God is the judge -- but in the New, Christ is the merciful. As a matter of fact, the New Testament is infinitely worse than the Old. In the Old there is no threat of eternal pain. Jehovah had no eternal prison -- no everlasting fire. His hatred ended at the grave. His revenge was satisfied when his enemy was dead. In the New Testament, death is not the end, but the beginning of punishment that has no end. In the New Testament the malice of God is infinite and the hunger of his revenge eternal. The orthodox God, when clothed in human flesh, told his disciples not to resist evil, to love their enemies, and when smitten on one cheek to turn the other, and yet we are told that this same God, with the same loving lips, uttered these heartless, these fiendish words; "Depart ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." These are the words of "eternal love." No human being has imagination enough to conceive of this infinite horror. All that the human race has suffered in war and want, in pestilence and famine, in fire and flood, -- all the pangs and pains of every disease and every death -- all this is as nothing compared with the agonies to be endured by one lost soul. This is the consolation of the Christian religion. This is the justice of God -- the mercy of Christ. This frightful dogma, this infinite lie, made me the implacable enemy of Christianity. The truth is that this belief in eternal pain has been the real persecutor. It founded the Inquisition, forged the chains, and furnished the fagots. It has darkened the lives of many millions. It made the cradle as terrible as the coffin. It enslaved nations and shed the blood of countless thousands. It sacrificed the wisest, the bravest and the best. It subverted the idea of justice, drove mercy from the heart, changed men to fiends and banished reason from the brain. Like a venomous serpent it crawls and coils and hisses in every orthodox creed. It makes man an eternal victim and God an eternal fiend. It is the one infinite horror. Every church in which it is taught is a public curse. Every preacher who teaches it is an enemy of mankind. Below this Christian dogma, savagery cannot go. It is the infinite of malice, hatred, and revenge. Nothing could add to the horror of hell, except the presence of its creator, God. While I have life, as long as I draw breath, I shall deny with all my strength, and hate with every drop of my blood, this infinite lie.
Robert G. Ingersoll
Jesus intentionally brought together disciples who were very different - fishermen, tax collectors - not people who would naturally love one another. But he did this to show us what love looks like in practice. We have the privilege of putting this same kind of love on display as we love those in the body of Christ who don't look like us.
John M. Perkins
But for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances. A secret Master of Ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, 'Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,' can truly say to every group of Christian friends, 'You have not chosen one another, but I have chosen you for one another.' The friendship is not a reward for our discrimination and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of all the others...At this feast it is He who has spread the board and it is He who has chosen the guests. it is He, we may dare to hope, who sometimes does, and always should preside. Let us not reckon without our Host.
C.S. Lewis (The Four Loves)
To be a Christian means that God has become our point of reference and framework. “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). As Christians we need to become more and more self-consciously aware of this truth. One way to do this is to follow the apostle Paul’s instruction (2 Cor. 10:5) to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ or to “think God’s thoughts after him.” To be a Christian, not in name only, but as one who practices his or her beliefs (which is the essence of a disciple), is to think from a Christian perspective about life and reality. In becoming Christian our life becomes oriented to God who tells us to “be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” (Rom. 12:2)6
Eric Mason (Manhood Restored: How the Gospel Makes Men Whole)
God often uses failure to make us useful. When Jesus called the disciples, He did not go out and find the most qualified and successful people. He found the most willing, and He found them in the workplace. He found a fisherman, a tax collector, and a farmer. The Hebrews knew that failure was a part of maturing in God. The Greeks used failure as a reason for disqualification. Sadly, in the Church, we often treat one another in this way. This is not God's way. We need to understand that failing does not make us failures. It makes us experienced. It makes us more prepared to be useful in God's Kingdom -- if we have learned from it. And that is the most important ingredient for what God wants in His children.
Os Hillman (Today God Is First: 365 Meditations on Christ Kingdom Principles in the Workplace)
It is sobering to remember that one does not become gracious by reading a good book on grace. What’s more, the incarnation itself argues against it, since by definition our claim is that theory and praxis were brought together in the pure compassion of one who wrote nothing down. Our faith is “commissional,” not rhetorical. We are commanded to “go and do likewise,” not to go and talk likewise. Disciples are empowered to heal and forgive sins, not to apply for endowed chairs or publish and debate papers on the Q gospel - important as these may be. The life of the mind is not the problem, unless of course our life begins and ends there. Words can be a form of action, but they can also be a substitute for action.
Robin Meyers (Saving Jesus from the Church: How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus)
And what does the text inform us about the content of discipleship? Follow me, run along behind me! That is all. To follow in his steps is something which is void of all content. It gives us no intelligible programme for a way of life, no goal or ideal to strive after. It is not a cause which human calculation might deem worthy of our devotion, even the devotion of ourselves. What happens? At the call, Levi leaves all that he has--but not because he thinks that he might be doing something worth while, but simply for the sake of the call. Otherwise he cannot follow in the steps of Jesus. This act on Levi's part has not the slightest value in itself, it is quite devoid of significance and unworthy of consideration. This disciple simply burns his boats and goes ahead. He is called out, and has to forsake his old life in order that he may "exist" in the strictest sense of the word. The old life is left behind, and completely surrendered. The disciple is dragged out of his relative security into a life of absolute insecurity (that is, in truth, into the absolute security and safety of the fellowship of Jesus), from a life which is observable and calculable (it is, in fact, quite incalculable) into a life where everything is unobservable and fortuitous (that is, into one which is necessary and calculable), out of the realm of finite (which is in truth the infinite) into the realm of infinite possibilities (which is the one liberating reality). Again it is no universal law. Rather is it the exact opposite of all legality. It is nothing else than bondage to Jesus Christ alone, completely breaking through every programme, every ideal, every set of laws. No other significance is possible, since Jesus is the only significance. Beside Jesus nothing has any significance. He alone matters.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (The Cost of Discipleship)
While formally or structurally speaking, there are mechanisms of discipline operative in both the convent and the prison, in both the factory and the monastery, more specifically these disciplines and practices are aimed at very different ends. And here we must make an important distinction: we can distinguish good discipline from bad discipline by its telos, its goal or end. So the difference between the disciplines that form us into disciples of Christ and the disciplines of contemporary culture that produce consumers is precisely the goal they are aiming at. Discipline and formation are good insofar as they are directed toward the end, or telos, that is proper to human beings: to glorify God and enjoy him forever.
James K.A. Smith (Who's Afraid of Postmodernism?: Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church (The Church and Postmodern Culture))
Every disciple is a believer, but not every believer is necessarily a disciple. Anything short of discipleship, however, is settling for less than what God really desires for us. Loving God more than anyone or anything else is the very foundation of being a disciple. If you want to live your Christian life to its fullest, then love Jesus more than anyone or anything else. Either you will have harmony with God and friction with people, or you will have harmony with people and friction with God. You become a disciple in the biblical sense only when you are totally and completely committed to Jesus Christ and His Word. As a true disciple, your life won’t only be characterized by practical results and a hunger for Scripture, but you also will have love for others — especially fellow believers. Without all of these characteristics, you can’t really claim to be His disciple. A person who has been with Jesus will boldly share his or her faith. A person who has been with Jesus will be a person of prayer. A person who has been with Jesus will be persecuted. If for you, the Christian life is all about feeling good and having everything go your way, then you won’t like being a disciple. Being a follower of Christ is the most joyful and exciting life there is. But it also can be the most challenging life there is. It’s a life lived out under the command of someone other than yourself. Most prayers are not answered because they are outside the will of God. Once we have discovered God’s will, we can then pray aggressively and confidently for it. We can pray, believing it will happen, because we know it is not something we have dreamed. A forgiven person will be a forgiving person. A true disciple will harbor no grudge toward another. The disciple knows it will hinder his or her prayer life and walk with God. It is far better to sit down for an hour and talk genuinely with one person than to rattle off trite clichés to scores of people. Attending more Bible studies, more prayer meetings, reading more Christian books, and listening to more teaching without an outlet for the truth will cause us to spiritually decay. We need to take what God has given us and use it constructively in the lives of others. You were placed on earth to know God. Everything else is secondary. The more we know God, the more we should want to make Him known to a lost world. Your life belongs to God. You don’t share your time and talents with Him; He shares them with you! He owns you and everything about you. You need to recognize and acknowledge that fact.
Greg Laurie (Start! to Follow: How to Be a Successful Follower of Jesus Christ)
Notice that Christ didn’t generalize His illustration with “any” mountain. He specifically said “this” mountain. To what mountain did He refer? If you’ll check the context, Jesus and three of His disciples had just come down from the mountain where He was transfigured before them. When Jesus specifically said, “You can say to this mountain” (author’s emphasis), I believe He pointed to the same mountain. So there you have it. Beloved, if you pray that God will move a mountain and He doesn’t, or you have the faith to tell a mountain to move and it won’t, assume Christ wants you to climb it instead and see Him transfigured. Either way the mountain is under your feet. “The one who trusts in him will never be put to shame” (Rom. 9:33).
Beth Moore (Believing God)
The will of God is revealed as you listen to the Spirit of God in the Word of God. The precepts and promises of the Bible teach us what to pray. They teach us what grace to ask for and for what work we need strength. On every page of the Bible there is subject matter for prayer. B. F. Westcott, a renowned nineteenth-century English Bible scholar, observed: “The petitions of true disciples are echoes (so to speak) of Christ’s words. As He has spoken so they speak. Their prayer is only some fragment of His teaching transformed into a supplication, and so it will necessarily be heard.”[50]   One way to pray more effectively is to echo God’s Word back to Him as you pray. We align our hearts with His heart as we pray His Words from our hearts.
Archie Parrish (A Simple Way to Pray)
Look at it this way: Jesus is Jewish. The disciples were all Jews. The apostles were all Jews. All the people saved at Pentecost were Jews. The first Christian church in the world, the Church of Jerusalem, was entirely Jewish. That church sent missionaries throughout Asia and the Mediterranean and, at great pain and expense, brought the first Gentiles to salvation in Jesus Christ. Every Gentile saved today, every church we have built, every seminary, every missionary society — all can be traced back to the original courageous efforts of the Jewish believers of Israel who took the Gospel of Jesus Christ, on pain of death, throughout the known world. You’re reading this book because of the Jews and their witness. It’s time to return the favor.
Zola Levitt (The Miracle of Passover)
The devil is a wicked and angry spirit. He will not and cannot stand seeing a man enter the kingdom of God. And if the man undertakes to do so, he blocks the way himself, arousing and attempting every kind of opposition he can summon. If you want to be God's child, therefore, prepare yourself for persecution, as the wise man says. Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:12, 'All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.' And Christ Himself says (John 15:20): 'The disciple should not be better off than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.' There is no way out, and therefore the statement is: 'Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of the kingdom of heaven,' to let us know how to console ourselves.
Martin Luther (Luther's Works, Volume 21 (Sermon on the Mount and the Magnificat))
The triad, being the fundamental principle of the whole Kabalah, or Sacred Tradition of our fathers, was necessarily the fundamental dogma of Christianity, the apparent dualism of which it explains by the intervention of a harmonious and all-powerful unity. Christ did not put His teaching into writing, and only revealed it in secret to His favored disciple, the one Kabalist, and he a great Kabalist, among the apostles. So is the Apocalypse the book of the Gnosis or Secret Doctrine of the first Christians, and the key of this doctrine is indicated by an occult versicle of the Lord's Prayer, which the Vulgate leaves untranslated, while in the Greek Rite, the priests only are permitted to pronounce it. This versicle, completely kabalistic, is found in the Greek text of the Gospel according to St Matthew, and in several Hebrew copies, as follows: Ὅτι σοῦ ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία καὶ ἡ δύναμις καὶ ἡ δόξα εις τοὺς αἰῶνας. ἀμήν. The sacred word MALKUTH substituted for KETHER, which is its kabalistic correspondent, and the equipoise of GEBURAH and CHESED, repeating itself in the circles of heavens called eons by the Gnostics, provided the keystone of the whole Christian Temple in the occult versicle. It has been retained by Protestants in their New Testament, but they have failed to discern its lofty and wonderful meaning, which would have unveiled to them all the Mysteries of the Apocalypse. There is, however, a tradition in the Church that the manifestation of this mysteries is reserved till the last times.
Éliphas Lévi (Transcendental Magic: Its Doctrine and Ritual)
I'm part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have Holy Spirit power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I'm a disciple of His. I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I'm finished and down with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals. I no longer need prominence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power. My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my Guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won't give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, and preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me - my banner will be clear.
Avery T. Willis Jr.
There is a vast difference between being a Christian and being a disciple. The difference is commitment. Motivation and discipline will not ultimately occur through listening to sermons, sitting in a class, participating in a fellowship group, attending a study group in the workplace or being a member of a small group, but rather in the context of highly accountable, relationally transparent, truth-centered, small discipleship units. There are twin prerequisites for following Christ - cost and commitment, neither of which can occur in the anonymity of the masses. Disciples cannot be mass produced. We cannot drop people into a program and see disciples emerge at the end of the production line. It takes time to make disciples. It takes individual personal attention. Discipleship training is not about information transfer, from head to head, but imitation, life to life. You can ultimately learn and develop only by doing. The effectiveness of one's ministry is to be measured by how well it flourishes after one's departure. Discipling is an intentional relationship in which we walk alongside other disciples in order to encourage, equip, and challenge one another in love to grow toward maturity in Christ. This includes equipping the disciple to teach others as well. If there are no explicit, mutually agreed upon commitments, then the group leader is left without any basis to hold people accountable. Without a covenant, all leaders possess is their subjective understanding of what is entailed in the relationship. Every believer or inquirer must be given the opportunity to be invited into a relationship of intimate trust that provides the opportunity to explore and apply God's Word within a setting of relational motivation, and finally, make a sober commitment to a covenant of accountability. Reviewing the covenant is part of the initial invitation to the journey together. It is a sobering moment to examine whether one has the time, the energy and the commitment to do what is necessary to engage in a discipleship relationship. Invest in a relationship with two others for give or take a year. Then multiply. Each person invites two others for the next leg of the journey and does it all again. Same content, different relationships. The invitation to discipleship should be preceded by a period of prayerful discernment. It is vital to have a settled conviction that the Lord is drawing us to those to whom we are issuing this invitation. . If you are going to invest a year or more of your time with two others with the intent of multiplying, whom you invite is of paramount importance. You want to raise the question implicitly: Are you ready to consider serious change in any area of your life? From the outset you are raising the bar and calling a person to step up to it. Do not seek or allow an immediate response to the invitation to join a triad. You want the person to consider the time commitment in light of the larger configuration of life's responsibilities and to make the adjustments in schedule, if necessary, to make this relationship work. Intentionally growing people takes time. Do you want to measure your ministry by the number of sermons preached, worship services designed, homes visited, hospital calls made, counseling sessions held, or the number of self-initiating, reproducing, fully devoted followers of Jesus? When we get to the shore's edge and know that there is a boat there waiting to take us to the other side to be with Jesus, all that will truly matter is the names of family, friends and others who are self initiating, reproducing, fully devoted followers of Jesus because we made it the priority of our lives to walk with them toward maturity in Christ. There is no better eternal investment or legacy to leave behind.
Greg Ogden (Transforming Discipleship: Making Disciples a Few at a Time)
In his High Priestly prayer, he said, “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17:4). He could shout the word “tetelestai” because he was a faithful Savior who accomplished the Father’s will. Jesus was faithful in spite of satanic opposition, in spite of the blindness and disobedience of the religious leaders, even in spite of the stupidity and slowness to believe of his own disciples. When sinful people were doing their worst, Jesus Christ was giving his best; and he did it because he loved the Father and loved a world of lost sinners. Jesus Christ is still a faithful Servant. Having finished His work on earth, he is now faithfully serving his people in heaven as High Priest and Advocate (Heb. 4:14–16; 1 John 2:1–3). When we’re tempted, we can come to his throne and receive the grace and mercy we need. If we sin, we can come to our heavenly Advocate, confess our sins, and be forgiven (1 John 1:9–2:2). He is faithful to deliver us in times of temptation (1 Cor. 10:13), faithful to forgive us when we fall, and faithful to keep us until we meet him face to face (2 Tim. 1:12; Jude 24).
Warren W. Wiersbe (The Cross of Jesus: What His Words from Calvary Mean for Us)
The Great Commission given by the risen Christ to His apostles included an intentional sequence: preach the gospel, baptize converts, then teach them how to follow Christ. In more than three dozen specific conversations with nonbelievers in the book of Acts, there is not a single example of the disciples harping on immorality or politics; their focus and their zeal never wavered from the gospel.
John Wootton (Messaging: Why Audience Matters)
read the Bible daily? That means every day without fail. Each of us should say to ourselves,“No Bible, no breakfast. No read, no feed.” Be like Job, who “treasured the words of His mouth more than [his] necessary food” (Job 23:12, emphasis added). The key is to put your Bible before your belly—to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. If we are not “disciples” of Christ—disciplined to His Word—we will more than likely reproduce after our own kind. If we are worldly and undisciplined, our kids may grow up to follow our poor example of what a Christian should be. If we are hypocrites, we may just reproduce hypocrites. What greater parental betrayal could there be than to lead your children to hell? So esteem God’s Word more than your necessary food, and teach your kids to do the same.
Ray Comfort (How to Bring Your Children to Christ...& Keep Them There: Avoiding the Tragedy of False Conversion)
The motherhood to which every Christian woman is called is making disciples of all nations. We all must labor, prayerfully expectant that God will mercifully grant people new birth in Christ. Because Jesus is worthy to receive worship from the image bearers he has created, every human being is worthy of our labor and care in this endeavor of discipleship. In this sense there is no Christian woman who is child-free. We pass on the gospel to the next generation of worshipers, who will pass on the gospel to the next generation, and so on. The aim of our motherhood is to declare the good news to the next generation, “to a people yet unborn” (Ps. 22:31). We pass on the gospel because we know it is the only thing that will give our children the strength and motive to give their own lives in making disciples.
Gloria Furman (Missional Motherhood: The Everyday Ministry of Motherhood in the Grand Plan of God)
We would either have a silent, a soft, a perfumed cross, sugared and honeyed with the consolations of Christ, or we faint; and providence must either brew a cup of gall and wormwood, mastered in the mixing with joy and songs, else we cannot be disciples. But Christ’s cross did not smile on him, his cross was a cross, and his ship sailed in blood, and his blessed soul was sea-sick, and heavy even to death.
Samuel Rutherford (Christ Dying and Drawing Sinners to Himself, Or, a Survey of Our Saviour in His Soule-Suffering, His Lovelynesse in His Death, and the Efficacie Thereof in Which Some Cases of Soule-Trouble in Weeke Beleevers Are Opened (1647))
What emotion had filled the breast of Christ when he ordered away the man who was to betray him for thirty pieces of silver. Was it anger? or resentment? Or did these words arise from his love? If it was anger, then at this instant Christ excluded from salvation this man alone of all the men in the world; and then our Lord allowed one man to fall into eternal damnation. But it could not be so. Christ wanted to save even Judas. If not, he would have never made him one of his disciples. And yet why did Christ not stop him when he began to slip from the path of righteousness? This was a problem I had not understood even as a seminarian......If it is not blasphemous to say so, I have the feeling that Judas was no more than the unfortunate puppet for the glory of that drama which was the life and death of Christ.
Shūsaku Endō (Silence)
Even the highly critical New Testament scholar Rudolf Bultmann agreed that historical criticism can establish "the fact that the first disciples came to believe in the resurrection" and that they thought they had seen the risen Jesus.67 Atheistic New Testament scholar Gerd Ludemann concludes, "It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus' death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ."6R Paula Fredriksen of Boston University comments, "I know in their own terms what they saw was the raised Jesus. That's what they say and then all the historic evidence we have afterwards attest to their conviction that that's what they saw. I'm not saying that they really did see the raised Jesus. I wasn't there. I don't know what they saw. But I do know that as a historian that they must have seen something.
Gary R. Habermas (The Case For The Resurrection Of Jesus)
given men warning of coming judgments. Those who had faith in His message for their time, and who acted out their faith, in obedience to His commandments, escaped the judgments that fell upon the disobedient and unbelieving. The word came to Noah, “Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before Me.” Noah obeyed and was saved. The message came to Lot, “Up, get you out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city.” Genesis 7:1; 19:14. Lot placed himself under the guardianship of the heavenly messengers, and was saved. So Christ’s disciples were given warning of the destruction of Jerusalem. Those who watched for the sign of the coming ruin, and fled from the city, escaped the destruction. So now we are given warning of Christ’s second coming and of the destruction to fall upon the world. Those who heed the warning will be saved.
Ellen G. White (The Desire of Ages (Conflict of the Ages Series))
Of course the theologians fought the facts found by the geologists, the scientists, and sought to sustain the sacred Scriptures. They mistook the bones of the mastodon for those of human beings, and by them proudly proved that "there were giants in those days." They accounted for the fossils by saying that God had made them to try our faith, or that the Devil had imitated the works of the Creator. They answered the geologists by saying that the "days" in Genesis were long periods of time, and that after all the flood might have been local. They told the astronomers that the sun and moon were not actually, but only apparently, stopped. And that the appearance was produced by the reflection and refraction of light. They excused the slavery and polygamy, the robbery and murder upheld in the Old Testament by saying that the people were so degraded that Jehovah was compelled to pander to their ignorance and prejudice. In every way the clergy sought to evade the facts, to dodge the truth, to preserve the creed. At first they flatly denied the facts -- then they belittled them -- then they harmonized them -- then they denied that they had denied them. Then they changed the meaning of the "inspired" book to fit the facts. At first they said that if the facts, as claimed, were true, the Bible was false and Christianity itself a superstition. Afterward they said the facts, as claimed, were true and that they established beyond all doubt the inspiration of the Bible and the divine origin of orthodox religion. Anything they could not dodge, they swallowed and anything they could not swallow, they dodged. I gave up the Old Testament on account of its mistakes, its absurdities, its ignorance and its cruelty. I gave up the New because it vouched for the truth of the Old. I gave it up on account of its miracles, its contradictions, because Christ and his disciples believe in the existence of devils -- talked and made bargains with them. expelled them from people and animals. This, of itself, is enough. We know, if we know anything, that devils do not exist -- that Christ never cast them out, and that if he pretended to, he was either ignorant, dishonest or insane.
Robert G. Ingersoll
At first Christ was a man – nothing more. Mary was his mother, Joseph his father. The genealogy of his father, Joseph, was given to show that he was of the blood of David. Then the claim was made that he was the son of God, and that his mother was a virgin, and that she remained a virgin until her death. The claim was made that Christ rose from the dead and ascended bodily to heaven. It required many years for these absurdities to take possession of the minds of men. If he really ascended, why did he not do so in public, in the presence of his persecutors? Why should this, the greatest of miracles, be done in secret, in a corner? Is Christ our example? He never said a word in favor of education. He never even hinted at the existence of any science. He never uttered a word in favor of industry, economy or of any effort to better our condition in this world. He was the enemy of the successful, of the wealthy. Dives was sent to hell, not because he was bad, but because he was rich. Lazarus went to heaven, not because he was good, but because he was poor. Christ cared nothing for painting, for sculpture, for music – nothing for any art. He said nothing about the duties of nation to nation, of king to subject; nothing about the rights of man; nothing about intellectual liberty or the freedom of speech. He said nothing about the sacredness of home; not one word for the fireside; not a word in favor of marriage, in honor of maternity. He never married. He wandered homeless from place to place with a few disciples. None of them seem to have been engaged in any useful business, and they seem to have lived on alms. All human ties were held in contempt; this world was sacrificed for the next; all human effort was discouraged. God would support and protect. At last, in the dusk of death, Christ, finding that he was mistaken, cried out: “My God! My God! Why hast thou forsaken me? We have found that man must depend on himself. He must clear the land; he must build the home; he must plow and plant; he must invent; he must work with hand and brain; he must overcome the difficulties and obstructions; he must conquer and enslave the forces of nature to the end that they may do the work of the world.
Robert G. Ingersoll
A most obstinate misconception associated with the gospel of Jesus Christ is that the gospel is welcome in this world. The conviction endemic among church folk persists that, if problems of misapprehension and misrepresentation are overcome and the gospel can be heard in its own integrity, the gospel will be found attractive by people, become popular and even be a success of some sort. This idea is curious and ironical because it is bluntly contradicted in Scripture, and in the experience of the continuing biblical witness in history from the event of Pentecost unto the present moment. During Jesus' earthly ministry, no one in His family and not a single one of the disciples accepted Him, believed His vocation or loved the gospel He bespoke and embodies. Since the rubrics of success, power, or gain are impertinent to the gospel, the witness of the saints looks foolish where it is most exemplary.
William Stringfellow
One truth, then, is that Christ is always being remade in the image of man, which means that his reality is always being deformed to fit human needs, or what humans perceive to be their needs. A deeper truth, though, one that scripture suggests when it speaks of the eternal Word being made specific flesh, is that there is no permutation of humanity in which Christ is not present. If every Bible is lost, if every church crumbles to dust, if the last believer in the last prayer opens her eyes and lets it all finally go, Christ will appear on this earth as calmly and casually as he appeared to the disciples walking to Emmaus after his death, who did not recognize this man to whom they had pledged their very lives; this man whom they had seen beaten, crucified, abandoned by God; this man who, after walking the dusty road with them, after sharing an ordinary meal and discussing the scriptures, had to vanish once more in order to make them see.
Christian Wiman (My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer)
In the Saviour's manner of healing there were lessons for His disciples. On one occasion He anointed the eyes of a blind man with clay, and bade him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam. . . . He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing." John 9:7. The cure could be wrought only by the power of the Great Healer, yet Christ made use of the simple agencies of nature. While He did not give countenance to drug medication, He sanctioned the use of simple and natural remedies.
Ellen G. White (The Desire of Ages)
But suppose my daughters had approached me as we often approach God. “Hey, Dad, glad you’re home. Here is what I want. More toys. More candy. And can we go to Disneyland this summer?” “Whoa,” I would have wanted to say. “I’m not a waiter, and this isn’t a restaurant. I’m your father, and this is our house. Why don’t you just climb up on Daddy’s lap and let me tell you how much I love you?” Ever thought God might want to do the same with you? Oh, he wouldn’t say that to me. He wouldn’t? Then to whom was he speaking when he said, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3 NIV)? Was he playing games when he said, “Nothing . . . will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ” (Rom. 8:39)? Buried in the seldom-quarried mines of the minor prophets is this jewel: The LORD your God is with you; the mighty One will save you. He will rejoice over you. You will rest in his love; he will sing and be joyful about you. (Zeph. 3:17) Don’t move too quickly through that verse. Read it again and prepare yourself for a surprise. The LORD your God is with you; the mighty One will save you. He will rejoice over you. You will rest in his love; he will sing and be joyful about you. (Zeph. 3:17) Note who is active and who is passive. Who is singing, and who is resting? Who is rejoicing over his loved one, and who is being rejoiced over? We tend to think we are the singers and God is the “singee.” Most certainly that is often the case. But apparently there are times when God wishes we would just be still and (what a stunning thought!) let him sing over us. I can see you squirming. You say you aren’t worthy of such affection? Neither was Judas, but Jesus washed his feet. Neither was Peter, but Jesus fixed him breakfast. Neither were the Emmaus-bound disciples, but Jesus took time to sit at their table. Besides, who are we to determine if we are worthy? Our job is simply to be still long enough to let him have us and let him love us.
Max Lucado (Just Like Jesus: A Heart Like His (The Bestseller Collection Book 2))
According to the gospels, Christ healed diseases, cast out devils, rebuked the sea, cured the blind, fed multitudes with five loaves and two fishes, walked on the sea, cursed a fig tree, turned water into wine and raised the dead. How is it possible to substantiate these miracles? The Jews, among whom they were said to have been performed, did not believe them. The diseased, the palsied, the leprous, the blind who were cured, did not become followers of Christ. Those that were raised from the dead were never heard of again. Can we believe that Christ raised the dead? A widow living in Nain is following the body of her son to the tomb. Christ halts the funeral procession and raises the young man from the dead and gives him back to the arms of his mother. This young man disappears. He is never heard of again. No one takes the slightest interest in the man who returned from the realm of death. Luke is the only one who tells the story. Maybe Matthew, Mark and John never heard of it, or did not believe it and so failed to record it. John says that Lazarus was raised from the dead. It was more wonderful than the raising of the widow’s son. He had not been laid in the tomb for days. He was only on his way to the grave, but Lazarus was actually dead. He had begun to decay. Lazarus did not excite the least interest. No one asked him about the other world. No one inquired of him about their dead friends. When he died the second time no one said: “He is not afraid. He has traveled that road twice and knows just where he is going.” We do not believe in the miracles of Mohammed, and yet they are as well attested as this. We have no confidence in the miracles performed by Joseph Smith, and yet the evidence is far greater, far better. If a man should go about now pretending to raise the dead, pretending to cast out devils, we would regard him as insane. What, then, can we say of Christ? If we wish to save his reputation we are compelled to say that he never pretended to raise the dead; that he never claimed to have cast out devils. We must take the ground that these ignorant and impossible things were invented by zealous disciples, who sought to deify their leader. In those ignorant days these falsehoods added to the fame of Christ. But now they put his character in peril and belittle the authors of the gospels. Christianity cannot live in peace with any other form of faith. If that religion be true, there is but one savior, one inspired book, and but one little narrow grass-grown path that leads to heaven. Why did he not again enter the temple and end the old dispute with demonstration? Why did he not confront the Roman soldiers who had taken money to falsely swear that his body had been stolen by his friends? Why did he not make another triumphal entry into Jerusalem? Why did he not say to the multitude: “Here are the wounds in my feet, and in my hands, and in my side. I am the one you endeavored to kill, but death is my slave”? Simply because the resurrection is a myth. The miracle of the resurrection I do not and cannot believe. We know nothing certainly of Jesus Christ. We know nothing of his infancy, nothing of his youth, and we are not sure that such a person ever existed. There was in all probability such a man as Jesus Christ. He may have lived in Jerusalem. He may have been crucified; but that he was the Son of God, or that he was raised from the dead, and ascended bodily to heaven, has never been, and, in the nature of things, can never be, substantiated.
Robert G. Ingersoll
First-century discipleship was expressed as a servant-master relationship (see Matthew 10:24). Once accepted as a disciple, a young man started as a talmidh, or beginner, who sat in the back of the room and could not speak. Then he became a distinguished student, who took an independent line in his approach or questioning. At the next level, he became a disciple-associate, who sat immediately behind the rabbi during prayer time. Finally he achieved the highest level, a disciple of the wise, and was recognized as the intellectual equal of his rabbi.'" 2. Memorizing the teacher's words: Oral tradition provided the basic way of studying. Disciples learned the teacher's words verbatim to pass along to the next person. Often disciples learned as many as four interpretations of each major passage in the Torah. 3. Learning the teacher's way of ministry: A disciple learned how his teacher kept God's commands, including how he practiced the Sabbath, fasted, prayed, and said blessings in ceremonial situations. He would also learn his rabbi's teaching methods and the many traditions his master followed. 4. Imitating the teacher's life and character: Jesus said that when a disciple is fully taught, he "will be like his teacher" (Luke 6:40). The highest calling of a disciple was to imitate his teacher. Paul called on Timothy to follow his example (see 2 Timothy 3:10-14), and he didn't hesitate to call on all believers to do the same (see 1 Corinthians 4:14-16; 1 1:1; Philippians 4:9). One story in ancient tradition tells of a rabbinical student so devoted to his teacher that he hid in the teacher's bedchamber to discover the mentor's sexual technique. To be sure, this is a bit extreme, yet it demonstrates the level of commitment required to be a disciple. 5. Raising up their own disciples: When a disciple finished his training, he was expected to reproduce what he'd learned by finding and training his own apprentices. He would start his own school and call it after his name, such as the House of Hillel.
Bill Hull (The Complete Book of Discipleship: On Being and Making Followers of Christ)
Is He a light to you, or the Light? Is He a way for you to follow—perhaps here and there in life—or is He the way you want to go? Is He a means to the afterlife in your opinion? In other words, deep down inside do you think that several world religions probably offer a viable way to life after death and Jesus is but one of them? Or is He the resurrection and the life? Be as honest as possible in your response to the following question: Beloved, is Christ an a among several other possibilities in this life to you or is He your THE?
Beth Moore (The Beloved Disciple: Following John to the Heart of Jesus)
If anything is clear from reading Scripture, this fact is apparent: God speaks to His people. At the beginning of the Bible, we find Him speaking to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. He conversed with Abraham and the other patriarchs. He spoke to the judges, kings, and prophets. God was in Christ Jesus speaking to the disciples. God communicated with the early church, and as the biblical record comes to a close, God spoke to John on the Isle of Patmos. God speaks to His people, and you can anticipate that He will communicate with you, too.
Henry T. Blackaby (Experiencing God)
Consider what Jesus is saying. A yoke is the heavy crossbar laid on oxen to force them to drag farming equipment through the field. Jesus is using a kind of irony, saying that the yoke laid on his disciples is a nonyoke. For it is a yoke of kindness. Who could resist this? It’s like telling a drowning man that he must put on the burden of a life preserver only to hear him shout back, sputtering, “No way! Not me! This is hard enough, drowning here in these stormy waters. The last thing I need is the added burden of a life preserver around my body!
Dane C. Ortlund (Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers)
The way of salvation is found with humility.  Being able to admit that we are recalcitrant glory-hounds.  Being able to admit that we need Jesus because we are just like those disciples in our text, fixated on ourselves and our own status and glory.  Humility is the divine anti-venom to the poison of pride.  And this humility is not something that we can muster up out of our resources and willpower.  True humility, the kind of humility described by Christ here, is a gift of the Holy Spirit, a fruit of faith and of the new birth worked in us by God.
Anonymous
I did say that to deny the existence of evil spirits, or to deny the existence of the devil, is to deny the truth of the New Testament; and that to deny the existence of these imps of darkness is to contradict the words of Jesus Christ. I did say that if we give up the belief in devils we must give up the inspiration of the Old and New Testaments, and we must give up the divinity of Christ. Upon that declaration I stand, because if devils do not exist, then Jesus Christ was mistaken, or we have not in the New Testament a true account of what he said and of what he pretended to do. If the New Testament gives a true account of his words and pretended actions, then he did claim to cast out devils. That was his principal business. That was his certificate of divinity, casting out devils. That authenticated his mission and proved that he was superior to the hosts of darkness. Now, take the devil out of the New Testament, and you also take the veracity of Christ; with that veracity you take the divinity; with that divinity you take the atonement, and when you take the atonement, the great fabric known as Christianity becomes a shapeless ruin. The Christians now claim that Jesus was God. If he was God, of course the devil knew that fact, and yet, according to this account, the devil took the omnipotent God and placed him upon a pinnacle of the temple, and endeavored to induce him to dash himself against the earth… Think of it! The devil – the prince of sharpers – the king of cunning – the master of finesse, trying to bribe God with a grain of sand that belonged to God! Casting out devils was a certificate of divinity. Is there in all the religious literature of the world anything more grossly absurd than this? These devils, according to the Bible, were of various kinds – some could speak and hear, others were deaf and dumb. All could not be cast out in the same way. The deaf and dumb spirits were quite difficult to deal with. St. Mark tells of a gentleman who brought his son to Christ. The boy, it seems, was possessed of a dumb spirit, over which the disciples had no control. “Jesus said unto the spirit: ‘Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee come out of him, and enter no more into him.’” Whereupon, the deaf spirit (having heard what was said) cried out (being dumb) and immediately vacated the premises. The ease with which Christ controlled this deaf and dumb spirit excited the wonder of his disciples, and they asked him privately why they could not cast that spirit out. To whom he replied: “This kind can come forth by nothing but prayer and fasting.” Is there a Christian in the whole world who would believe such a story if found in any other book? The trouble is, these pious people shut up their reason, and then open their Bible.
Robert G. Ingersoll
The effective Christians of history have been men and women of great personal discipline. The connection between the words disciple and discipline is obvious. To be a true, effective disciple of Christ we must seek to discipline our lives and endeavor to walk even as He walked. The thing that has hindered the progress of the church is not so much our talk and our creeds; but it has been our walk, our conduct, our daily living. We need a revival of Christian example, and that can only come when professed followers of Christ begin to practice Christian discipline.
Billy Graham (Unto the Hills: A Daily Devotional)
[a St. Luke 14:26.] Of course, the term 'hate' does not imply hatred of parents or relatives, or of life, in the ordinary sense. But it points to this, that, as outward separation, consequent upon men's antagonism to Christ, was before them in the near future, so, in the present, inward separation, a renunciation in mind and heart, preparatory to that outwardly, was absolutely necessary. And this immediate call was illustrated in twofold manner. A man who was about to begin building a tower, must count the cost of his undertaking. [b vv. 28-30.] It was not enough that he was prepared to defray the expense of the foundations; he must look to the cost of the whole. So must they, in becoming disciples, look not on what was involved in the present following of Christ, but remember the cost of the final acknowledgement of Jesus. Again, if a king went to war, common prudence would lead him to consider whether his forces were equal to the great contest before him; else it were far better to withdraw in time, even though it involved humiliation, from what, in view of his weakness, would end in miserable defeat. [c vv. 31, 32.] So, and much more, must the intending disciple make complete inward surrender of all, deliberately counting the cost, and, in view of the coming trial, ask himself whether he had, indeed, sufficient inward strength, the force of love to Christ, to conquer. And thus discipleship, then, and, in measure, to all time, involves the necessity of complete inward surrender of everything for the love of Christ, so that if, and when, the time of outward trial comes, we may be prepared to conquer in the fight. [d ver. 33.] He fights well, who has first fought and conquered within.
Alfred Edersheim (Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah)
To get a sense of what I mean by evangelism as the practice of hospitality, visit your local church. Don’t go upstairs, to the sanctuary, go downstairs to that room in the basement with the linoleum tile and the coffee urn. That’s where the AA and NA meetings are held. At its best, Alcoholics Anonymous embodies evangelism as hospitality. They offer an invitation, not a sales pitch. They offer testimony — personal stories — instead of a marketing scheme. They are, in fact and in practice, a bunch of beggars offering other beggars the good news of where they found bread. At its worst, AA sometimes slips into the evangelism-as-sales model. You may have found yourself at some point having a beer when some newly sober 12-step disciple begins lecturing you that this is evidence that you have a problem. He will try to sell you the idea that you are a beggar so he can sell you some bread. The ensuing conversation is tense, awkward and pointless — the precise qualities of the similar conversation you may have had with an evangelical Christian coworker who was reluctantly but dutifully inflicting on you a sales pitch for evangelical Christianity.
Fred Clark (The Anti-Christ Handbook: The Horror and Hilarity of Left Behind)
Have you gone beyond accepting the fact that there's a God? Have you moved beyond accepting Christ as God's Son and made Him Lord of your life? If you believe there's a God, that He sent His Son to die for you, that God raised Jesus from the dead after three days, and that Christ is coming back for His disciples—that's great. But Satan also believes all that! What makes your life any different from Satan's? To be different, you must come to Christ, pursue Him, give your life to Him, and keep growing in your relationship with Him—-for He's a Person to be loved, not an idea to be accepted.
Henry T. Blackaby (Experiencing the Spirit: The Power of Pentecost Every Day)
In the world of togas, sandals, the Parthenon, temples, and little white homes perched on hillsides overlooking the sea, discipleship permeated Greek life-from aristocrats to peasants, from philosophers to tradesmen. In the first century, the apostle Paul stood on Mars Hill and said, "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious.... I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you" (Acts 17:22-23). Paul's speech demonstrates that the Greek philosophers were confused about God. But they were also astute in passing on their confusion as they lived out discipleship and even created some of its language and technique. The Greek masters' use of mathetes, or disciple: As explored in chapter 1, mathetes is translated "disciple." We can find the concept of disciple-a person following a master-among the great masters of Greece. Plato, Socrates, and Herodotus all used disciple to mean "learner" or "one who is a diligent student." These and other Greek philosophers generally understood that the disciple's life involved apprenticeship, a relationship of submission, and a life of demanding
Bill Hull (The Complete Book of Discipleship: On Being and Making Followers of Christ)
Like gamblers, baseball fans and television networks, fishermen are enamored of statistics. The adoration of statistics is a trait so deeply embedded in their nature that even those rarefied anglers the disciples of Jesus couldn't resist backing their yarns with arithmetic: when the resurrected Christ appears on the morning shore of the Sea of Galilee and directs his forlorn and skunked disciples to the famous catch of John 21, we learn that the net contained not "a boatload" of fish, nor "about a hundred and a half," nor "over a gross," but precisely "a hundred and fifty three." This is, it seems to me, one of the most remarkable statistics ever computed. Consider the circumstances: this is after the Crucifixion and the Resurrection; Jesus is standing on the beach newly risen from the dead, and it is only the third time the disciples have seen him since the nightmare of Calvary. And yet we learn that in the net there were "great fishes" numbering precisely "a hundred and fifty three." How was this digit discovered? Mustn't it have happened thus: upon hauling the net to shore, the disciples squatted down by that immense, writhing fish pile and started tossing them into a second pile, painstakingly counting "one, two, three, four, five, six, seven... " all the way up to a hundred and fifty three, while the newly risen Lord of Creation, the Sustainer of all their beings, He who died for them and for Whom they would gladly die, stood waiting, ignored, till the heap of fish was quantified. Such is the fisherman's compulsion toward rudimentary mathematics! ....Concerning those disciples huddled over the pile of fish, another possibility occurs to me: perhaps they paid the fish no heed. Perhaps they stood in a circle adoring their Lord while He, the All-Curious Son of His All-Knowing Dad, counted them all Himself!
David James Duncan (The River Why)
This is often the primary difference between him and so many of those of us who follow him. When we encounter the many ills of the world, we find ourselves growing more and more callous toward people, more and more judgmental, less and less hopeful. Rather than seeing the hurting humanity we encounter every day as an opportunity to be the very loving presence of Jesus, we see them as reason to withdraw from it all. Faith becomes about retreating from the world when it should be about moving toward it. As we walk deeper into organized religion, we run the risk of eventually becoming fully blind to the tangible suffering around us, less concerned about mending wounds or changing systems, and more preoccupied with saving or condemning souls. In this way, the spiritual eyes through which we see the world change everything. If our default lens is sin, we tend to look ahead to the afterlife, but if we focus on suffering, we’ll lean toward presently transforming the planet in real time—and we’ll create community accordingly. The former seeks to help people escape the encroaching moral decay by getting them into heaven; the latter takes seriously the prayer Jesus teaches his disciples, that they would make the kingdom come—that through lives resembling Christ and work that perpetuates his work, we would actually bring heaven down. Practically speaking, sin management seems easier because essentially all that is required of us is to preach, to call out people’s errors and invite them to repentance, and to feel we’ve been faithful. But seeing suffering requires us to step into the broken, jagged chaos of people’s lives to be agents of healing and change. It’s far more time consuming and much more difficult to do as a faith community. It is a lot easier to train preachers to lead people in a Sinner’s Prayer than it is to equip them to address the systematic injustices around them.
John Pavlovitz (A Bigger Table: Building Messy, Authentic, and Hopeful Spiritual Community)
What mature believer does not delight in seeing new converts talk with Christ? As we get older, we sometimes hurry past the ardor we knew as younger Christians. Hurried Christians beget hurried disciples. Hurried disciples become a hurried church—a hassled fellowship of disciples who serve the clock and call it God. But this subnormal Christianity has become so normal we don’t see anything abnormal about it. In fact, we’ve come to believe that the most sincere Christians are supposed to be shallow neurotics. Yet the church holds only one possibility of relevance: Time itself must be surrendered to the pursuit of the depths of God.
Calvin Miller (The Disciplined Life)
Can you take in what you have overheard in the High Priestly Prayer of John 17? It is like a light momentarily switched on in a darkened room and then extinguished. Did you really see such treasures? Has Jesus actually prayed that my faith will not fail (Luke 22:31-32) and that I will be kept by God's power for such glory (1 Peter 1:5-11)? Is even my name engraved on His shoulders and inscribed on His heart? Do you understand how much your High Priest cares for you and loves you? It is almost as though He were saying, "Father, My glory will be incomplete unless You keep this promise-that My beloved disciples can see it and share it.
Sinclair B. Ferguson (In Christ Alone: Living the Gospel Centered Life)
Matchevici answered, “I don’t wish to remain alive and be ashamed to look in a mirror, because I will see the face of a traitor. I cannot accept such a condition. I prefer to die.” The officer of the secret police shook Matchevici’s hand and said, “I congratulate you. I didn’t expect any other answer from you. But I would like to make another proposal. Some of the prisoners have become our informers. They claim to be Commu­nist and they are denouncing you. They play a double role. We have no confidence in them. We would like to know in what measure they are sincere. Toward you they are traitors who are doing you much harm, informing us about your words and deeds. I understand that you don’t want to betray your comrades. But give us information about those who oppose you so you will save your life!” Matchevici answered, as promptly as the first time, “I am a disciple of Christ and He has taught us to love even our enemies. The men who betray us do us much harm but I cannot reward evil with evil. I cannot give information even against them. I pity them. I pray for them. I don’t wish to have any connection with the Communists.” Matche­vici came back from the discussion with the political officer and died in the same cell I was in. I saw him die—he was praising God. Love
Richard Wurmbrand (Tortured for Christ)
Many Christians live their lives as though Jesus finished His work in the first century. They seem to think that being a Christian is simply accepting the finished work of Christ, going to church every Sunday to express their worship, and waiting for His second coming. No, no, no. Jesus is working today, just as He did 2,000 years ago, to accomplish His cosmic mission... Some people can grasp the idea that Jesus goes to work every day, just like we do. Or conversely, and more correctly, we go to work every day, just like Jesus does. He told His disciples, "My father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working" (John 5:17). He still is. The central task of the universe today is extending the kingdom of God into every corner of human life, one follower at a time, one conversation at a time. That's what Jesus is concentrating on, and that's what we should be spending the best part of our time and energy doing. You may have assumed that the most important thing you could be doing with your life is selling carpet... raising kids... governing... discovering a cure for cancer... or pastoring the second-largest church in a small town. Those are all worthwhile endeavors, but each one of those tasks is only significant when it is a subtask of the grand objective: building the kingdom of God.
D. Michael Henderson (Making Disciples-One Conversation at a Time)
While it is in one sense a result of God’s presence within us, the New Testament also describes a process involved in our “putting on” the Lord Jesus Christ. It is repeatedly discussed in the Bible under three essential aspects, each inseparable from the other, all interrelated. This process could be presented in a “golden triangle” of spiritual transformation, for it is as precious as gold to the disciple, and each of its aspects is as essential to the whole process as three sides are to a triangle. One aspect or side of our triangle is the faithful acceptance of everyday problems. By enduring trials with patience, we can reach an assurance of the fullness of heaven’s rule in our lives.
Dallas Willard (The Great Omission: Reclaiming Jesus’s Essential Teachings on Discipleship)
(Inevitably, someone raises the question about World War II: What if Christians had refused to fight against Hitler? My answer is a counterquestion: What if the Christians in Germany had emphatically refused to fight for Hitler, refused to carry out the murders in concentration camps?) The long history of Christian “just wars” has wrought suffering past all telling, and there is no end in sight. As Yoder has suggested, Niebuhr’s own insight about the “irony of history” ought to lead us to recognize the inadequacy of our reason to shape a world that tends toward justice through violence. Might it be that reason and sad experience could disabuse us of the hope that we can approximate God’s justice through killing? According to the guideline I have proposed, reason must be healed and taught by Scripture, and our experience must be transformed by the renewing of our minds in conformity with the mind of Christ. Only thus can our warring madness be overcome. This would mean, practically speaking, that Christians would have to relinquish positions of power and influence insofar as the exercise of such positions becomes incompatible with the teaching and example of Jesus. This might well mean, as Hauerwas has perceived, that the church would assume a peripheral status in our culture, which is deeply committed to the necessity and glory of violence. The task of the church then would be to tell an alternative story, to train disciples in the disciplines necessary to resist the seductions of violence, to offer an alternative home for those who will not worship the Beast. If the church is to be a Scripture-shaped community, it will find itself reshaped continually into a closer resemblance to the socially marginal status of Matthew’s nonviolent countercultural community. To articulate such a theological vision for the church at the end of the twentieth century may be indeed to take most seriously what experience is telling us: the secular polis has no tolerance for explicitly Christian witness and norms. It is increasingly the case in Western culture that Christians can participate in public governance only insofar as they suppress their explicitly Christian motivations. Paradoxically, the Christian community might have more impact upon the world if it were less concerned about appearing reasonable in the eyes of the world and more concerned about faithfully embodying the New Testament’s teaching against violence. Let it be said clearly, however, that the reasons for choosing Jesus’ way of peacemaking are not prudential. In calculable terms, this way is sheer folly. Why do we choose the way of nonviolent love of enemies? If our reasons for that choice are shaped by the New Testament, we are motivated not by the sheer horror of war, not by the desire for saving our own skins and the skins of our children (if we are trying to save our skins, pacifism is a very poor strategy), not by some general feeling of reverence for human life, not by the naive hope that all people are really nice and will be friendly if we are friendly first. No, if our reasons for choosing nonviolence are shaped by the New Testament witness, we act in simple obedience to the God who willed that his own Son should give himself up to death on a cross. We make this choice in the hope and anticipation that God’s love will finally prevail through the way of the cross, despite our inability to see how this is possible. That is the life of discipleship to which the New Testament repeatedly calls us. When the church as a community is faithful to that calling, it prefigures the peaceable kingdom of God in a world wracked by violence.
Richard B. Hays (The Moral Vision of the New Testament: Community, Cross, New CreationA Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethic)
What interested these gnostics far more than past events attributed to the “historical Jesus” was the possibility of encountering the risen Christ in the present.49 The Gospel of Mary illustrates the contrast between orthodox and gnostic viewpoints. The account recalls what Mark relates: Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene … She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.50 As the Gospel of Mary opens, the disciples are mourning Jesus’ death and terrified for their own lives. Then Mary Magdalene stands up to encourage them, recalling Christ’s continual presence with them: “Do not weep, and do not grieve, and do not doubt; for his grace will be with you completely, and will protect you.”51 Peter invites Mary to “tell us the words of the Savior which you remember.”52 But to Peter’s surprise, Mary does not tell anecdotes from the past; instead, she explains that she has just seen the Lord in a vision received through the mind, and she goes on to tell what he revealed to her. When Mary finishes, she fell silent, since it was to this point that the Savior had spoken with her. But Andrew answered and said to the brethren, “Say what you will about what she has said. I, at least, do not believe that the Savior has said this. For certainly these teachings are strange ideas!”53 Peter agrees with Andrew, ridiculing the idea that Mary actually saw the Lord in her vision. Then, the story continues, Mary wept and said to Peter, “My brother Peter, what do you think? Do you think that I thought this up myself in my heart? Do you think I am lying about the Savior?” Levi answered and said to Peter, “Peter, you have always been hot-tempered … If the Savior made her worthy, who are you to reject her?”54 Finally Mary, vindicated, joins the other apostles as they go out to preach. Peter, apparently representing the orthodox position, looks to past events, suspicious of those who “see the Lord” in visions: Mary, representing the gnostic, claims to experience his continuing presence.55 These gnostics recognized that their theory, like the orthodox one, bore political implications. It suggests that whoever “sees the Lord” through inner vision can claim that his or her own authority equals, or surpasses, that of the Twelve—and of their successors. Consider the political implications of the Gospel of Mary: Peter and Andrew, here representing the leaders of the orthodox group, accuse Mary—the gnostic—of pretending to have seen the Lord in order to justify the strange ideas, fictions, and lies she invents and attributes to divine inspiration. Mary lacks the proper credentials for leadership, from the orthodox viewpoint: she is not one of the “twelve.” But as Mary stands up to Peter, so the gnostics who take her as their prototype challenge the authority of those priests and bishops who claim to be Peter’s successors.
The Gnostic Gospels
Western people today may have acquaintances, but few have relationships that even remotely approximate the honest, vulnerable, committed, covenantal relationships that weave the body of Christ together in the New Testament. Related to this, while the New Testament views the church as a community of people who unite around a mission, who spend significant amounts of time together in study, worship, and ministry, and who help one another become “fully mature in Christ” (Col. 1:28; cf. Eph. 4:13; James 1:4), most Westerners assume church is a place they go to once a week to sit alongside strangers, sing a few songs, and listen to a message before returning to their insulated lives. So too, whereas the New Testament envisions the bride of Christ as a community of people who convince the world that Jesus is for real by the way our unity reflects and participates in the loving unity of the Trinity (John 17:20–23), the Western church today has been reduced to little more than a brief gathering of consumers who are otherwise unconnected and who attend the weekend event with hopes of getting something that will benefit their lives. From a kingdom perspective, this individualistic and impoverished consumer-driven view of the church is nothing short of tragic, as is the perpetual immaturity of the believers who are trapped in it. If we are serious about our covenant with Christ, we have no choice but to get serious about cultivating covenant relationships with other disciples. There are no individual brides of Christ. Jesus is not a polygamist! There
Gregory A. Boyd (Benefit of the Doubt: Breaking the Idol of Certainty)
Everything we do and say will either underline or undermine our discipleship process. As long as there is one unsaved person on my campus or in my city, then my church is not big enough. One of the underlying principles of our discipleship strategy is that every believer can and should make disciples. When a discipleship process fails, many times the fatal flaw is that the definition of discipleship is either unclear, unbiblical, or not commonly shared by the leadership team. Write down what you love to do most, and then go do it with unbelievers. Whatever you love to do, turn it into an outreach. You have to formulate a system that is appropriate for your cultural setting. Writing your own program for making disciples takes time, prayer, and some trial and error—just as it did with us. Learn and incorporate ideas from other churches around the world, but only after modification to make sure the strategies make sense in our culture and community. Culture is changing so quickly that staying relevant requires our constant attention. If we allow ourselves to be distracted by focusing on the mechanics of our own efforts rather than our culture, we will become irrelevant almost overnight. The easiest and most common way to fail at discipleship is to import a model or copy a method that worked somewhere else without first understanding the values that create a healthy discipleship culture. Principles and process are much more important than material, models, and methods. The church is an organization that exists for its nonmembers. Christianity does not promise a storm-free life. However, if we build our lives on biblical foundations, the storms of life will not destroy us. We cannot have lives that are storm-free, but we can become storm-proof. Just as we have to figure out the most effective way to engage our community for Christ, we also have to figure out the most effective way to establish spiritual foundations in each unique context. There is really only one biblical foundation we can build our lives on, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. Pastors, teachers, and church staff believe their primary role is to serve as mentors. Their task is to equip every believer for the work of the ministry. It is not to do all the ministry, but to equip all the people to do it. Their top priority is to equip disciples to do ministry and to make disciples. Do you spend more time ministering to people or preparing people to minister? No matter what your church responsibilities are, you can prepare others for the same ministry. Insecurity in leadership is a deadly thing that will destroy any organization. It drives pastors and presidents to defensive positions, protecting their authority or exercising it simply to show who is the boss. Disciple-making is a process that systematically moves people toward Christ and spiritual maturity; it is not a bunch of randomly disconnected church activities. In the context of church leadership, one of the greatest and most important applications of faith is to trust the Holy Spirit to work in and through those you are leading. Without confidence that the Holy Spirit is in control, there is no empowering, no shared leadership, and, as a consequence, no multiplication.
Steve Murrell (WikiChurch: Making Discipleship Engaging, Empowering, and Viral)
Providence then - and this is what is most important to grasp - is not the same thing as a universal teleology. To believe in divine and unfailing providence is not to burden one's conscience with the need to see every event in this world not only as an occasion for God's grace, but as a positive determination of God's will whereby he brings to pass a comprehensive design that, in the absence of any single one of these events, would not have been possible. It may seem that this is to draw only the finest of logical distinction, one so fine indeed as to amount to little more than a sophistry. Some theologians - Calvin, for instance - have denied that the distinction between what God wills and what he permits has any meaning at all. And certainly there is no unanimity in the history of Christian exegesis on this matter. Certain classic Western interpretations of Paul's treatment of the hardening of Pharaoh's heart and of the hardened heart of Israel in Romans 9 have taken it as a clear statement of God's immediate determination of his creatures' wills. But in the Eastern Christian tradition, and in the thought of many of the greatest Western theologians, the same argument has often been understood to assert no more than that God in either case allowed a prior corruption of the will to run its course, or even - like a mire in the light of the sun - to harden the outpouring of God's fiery mercy, and always for the sake of a greater good that will perhaps redound even to the benefit of the sinner. One might read Christ's answer to his disciples' question regarding why a man had been born blind - 'that the works of God should be made manifest in him' (John 9:3) - either as a refutation or as a confirmation of the distinction between divine will and permission. When all is said and done, however, not only is the distinction neither illogical nor slight; it is an absolute necessity if - setting aside, as we should, all other judgments as superstitious, stochastic, and secondary - we are to be guided by the full character of what is revealed of God in Christ. For, after all, if it is from Christ that we are to learn how God relates himself to sin, suffering, evil, and death, it would seem that he provides us little evidence of anything other than a regal, relentless, and miraculous enmity: sin he forgives, suffering he heals, evil he casts out, and death he conquers. And absolutely nowhere does Christ act as if any of these things are part of the eternal work or purposes of God.
David Bentley Hart (The Doors of the Sea: Where Was God in the Tsunami?)
So the fundamental question before the church is who is Lord? Is the church the lord of Jesus Christ, so that it has liberty to edit and manipulate, accepting what it likes and rejecting what it dislikes? Or is Jesus Christ our Teacher and our Lord, so that we believe and obey his teaching? He still says to us, ‘Why do you call me, “Lord, Lord,” and do not do what I say?’ (Luke 6:46). To confess Jesus as Lord but not obey him is to build our lives on a foundation of sand. Again, ‘Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me,’ he said in the upper room (John 14:21). Here then are two cultures and two value systems, two standards and two lifestyles. On the one side there is the fashion of the world around us; on the other side is the revealed, good and pleasing will of God. Radical disciples have little difficulty in making their choice.
John R.W. Stott (The Radical Disciple: Some Neglected Aspects of Our Calling)
God calls his creatures to live under authority. He is our authority and has vested authority in people within the institutions he has established (home, church, state, and business). You must not be embarrassed to be authorities for your children. You exercise authority as God's agent. You may not direct your children for your own agenda or convenience. You must direct your children on God's behalf for their good. Our culture tends toward the extreme poles on a continuum. In the area of authority, we tend either toward a crass kind of John Wayne authoritarianism or toward being a wimp. God calls you by His Word and his example to be authorities who are truly kind. God calls you to exercise authority, not in making your children do what you want, but in being true servants - authorities who lay down your lives. The purpose for your authority in the lives of your children is not to hold them under your power, but to empower them to be self-controlled people living freely under the authority if God. Jesus is an example of this. The One who commands you, the One who possesses all authority, came as a servant. He is a ruler who serves; he is also a servant who rules. He exercises sovereign authority that is kind - authority exercised on behalf of his subjects. In John 13, Jesus, who knew that the Father had put all things under his authority, put on a towel and washed the disciples' feet. As his people submit to his authority, they are empowered to live freely in the freedom of the gospel. As a parent, you must exercise authority. You must require obedience of your children because they are called by God to obey and honor you. You must exercise authority, not as a cruel taskmaster, but as one who truly loves them.
Tedd Tripp
The ethics of the Sermon on the Mount are nothing less than extraordinary. To look at them as something that can be fulfilled within the ordinary and by ordinary means is foolish. Bonhoeffer writes that loving one’s enemies “demands more than the strength a natural person can muster.”4 Only from the perspective of the cross do the ethics of the Sermon on the Mount become possible; only by living from the cross can the ethical demands of Jesus come to pass in our lives. Again, “In Christ the crucified and his community, the ‘extraordinary’ occurs.”5 Do we really understand what love is? Or, to put the matter another way, who among us truly understands being a follower of Christ, a disciple? If left on our own, we would not get very far in answering these questions. So we see in Christ and we find in Christ what we need. But Bonhoeffer still calls us to live this way, not simply calling us to see Christ living this way.
Stephen J. Nichols (Bonhoeffer on the Christian Life: From the Cross, for the World (Theologians on the Christian Life))
One may readily concede that the historical factuality of the resurrection cannot be affirmed with the same level of confidence as the historical factuality of the crucifixion. All historical judgments can be made only with relative certainty, and the judgment that Jesus rose from the dead can be offered—from the historian’s point of view—only with great caution. The character of the event itself hardly falls within ordinary categories of experience.28 Still, something extraordinary happened shortly after Jesus’ death that rallied the dispirited disciples and sent them out proclaiming to the world that Jesus had risen and had appeared to them. Reductive psychological explanations fail to do justice to the widespread testimony to this event within the original community and to the moral seriousness of the movement that resulted from it. The best explanation is to say that God did something beyond all power of human imagining by raising Jesus from the dead. To make such a claim is to make an assertion that redefines reality.29 If such an event has happened in history, then history is not a closed system of immanent causes and effects. God is powerfully at work in the world in ways that defy common sense, redeeming the creation from its bondage to necessity and decay. That, of course, is precisely what the early Christians believed and proclaimed: I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. (EPH. 1:17–21. emphasis mine)
Richard B. Hays (The Moral Vision of the New Testament: Community, Cross, New CreationA Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethic)
Whereas Jesus demanded of the Jews the rejection of the tribalist Jahweh whom they identified with Israel, the race, the community the political state as object of worship and desire, the Sufis, born in an atmosphere of pure monotheism, demanded what Jesus of the first century A.D. would demand if he were to relive his early life again in present-day monotheistic Christendom. This does not mean that Jesus did not demand, like the Sufis, the cleansing of the soul from the personal deities it may worship besides God, but it does mean that the main weight of his teaching centered around the Jewish preoccupation with the tribe as God." "The object and deal of Sufism is, therefore, identically the same as that of the radical self-transformation of Jesus. Both aimed at the state of consciousness in which God is the sole subject, the sole determiner and the sole object of love and devotion. The tradition of both later influenced each other and succeeded in developing the same kind of preparatory disciplines leading towards the end. Finally, both referred to the final end of these processes as 'oneness' and their reference was in each case exposed to the same dangers of misunderstanding, indeed to the same misunderstanding. The oneness of Jesus was misunderstood as unity and fusion of being, and thus gave rise to the greatest materialization of an essentially spiritual union history has ever seen. The oneness of the highest Sufi state was likewise misunderstood and gave rise to the worst crime perpetrated on account of a supremely conscious misunderstanding...The destinies of the two misunderstandings, however, were far apart. The Christian misunderstanding came to dominate the Christendom; the Muslim misunderstanding performed its bloody deed and sank away in front of the Sufi tide which overwhelmed the Muslim world. The success of Sufism in Islam was therefore the success of the Jesus' ethic, but devoid of the theological superstructures which this Christian misunderstanding had constructed concerning the oneness of Christ with God, or of men with Christ. In the Middle Ages, the intellectual disciples of Jesus were the sufis of Islam, rather than the theologians of the Council or Pope-monarchs of Christendom.
Ismail R. al-Faruqi
But should we accept this negative view of power? Is power all bad? Specifically, can Christians share in this devaluation of power and discipline as inherently evil? Can we who claim to be disciples - who are called and predestined to be conformed to the likeness of the Son (Rom. 8:29) - be opposed to discipline and formation as such? Can we who are called to be subject to the Lord of life really agree with the liberal Enlightenment notion of the autonomous self? Are we not above all called to subject ourselves to our Domine and conform to his image? Of course, we are called not to conform to the patterns of 'this world' (Rom. 12:2) or to our previous evil desires (1 Peter 1:14), but that is a call not to nonconformity as such but rather to an alternative conformity through a counterformation in Christ, a transformation and renewal directed toward conformity to his image. By appropriating the liberal Enlightenment notion of negative freedom and participating in its nonconformist resistance to discipline (and hence a resistance to the classical spiritual disciplines), Christians are in fact being conformed to the patterns of this world (contra Rom. 12:2).
James K.A. Smith (Who's Afraid of Postmodernism?: Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church (The Church and Postmodern Culture))
If you will study the history of Christ's ministry from Baptism to Ascension, you will discover that it is mostly made up of little words, little deeds, little prayers, little sympathies, adding themselves together in unwearied succession. The Gospel is full of divine attempts to help and heal, in the body, mind and heart, individual men. The completed beauty of Christ's life is only the added beauty of little inconspicuous acts of beauty -- talking with the woman at the well; going far up into the North country to talk with the Syrophenician woman; showing the young ruler the stealthy ambition laid away in his heart, that kept him out of the kingdom of Heaven; shedding a tear at the grave of Lazarus; teaching a little knot of followers how to pray; preaching the Gospel one Sunday afternoon to two disciples going out to Emmaus; kindling a fire and broiling fish, that His disciples might have a breakfast waiting for them when they came ashore after a night of fishing, cold, tired, discouraged. All of these things, you see, let us in so easily into the real quality and tone of God's interests, so specific, so narrowed down, so enlisted in what is small, so engrossed in what is minute.
Charles Henry Parkhurst
MY FIRST ASSIGNMENT AFTER BEING ORDAINED as a pastor almost finished me. I was called to be the assistant pastor in a large and affluent suburban church. I was glad to be part of such an obviously winning organization. After I had been there a short time, a few people came to me and asked that I lead them in a Bible study. “Of course,” I said, “there is nothing I would rather do.” We met on Monday evenings. There weren’t many—eight or nine men and women—but even so that was triple the two or three that Jesus defined as a quorum. They were eager and attentive; I was full of enthusiasm. After a few weeks the senior pastor, my boss, asked me what I was doing on Monday evenings. I told him. He asked me how many people were there. I told him. He told me that I would have to stop. “Why?” I asked. “It is not cost-effective. That is too few people to spend your time on.” I was told then how I should spend my time. I was introduced to the principles of successful church administration: crowds are important, individuals are expendable; the positive must always be accented, the negative must be suppressed. Don’t expect too much of people—your job is to make them feel good about themselves and about the church. Don’t talk too much about abstractions like God and sin—deal with practical issues. We had an elaborate music program, expensively and brilliantly executed. The sermons were seven minutes long and of the sort that Father Taylor (the sailor-preacher in Boston who was the model for Father Mapple in Melville’s Moby Dick) complained of in the transcendentalists of the last century: that a person could no more be converted listening to sermons like that than get intoxicated drinking skim milk.[2] It was soon apparent that I didn’t fit. I had supposed that I was there to be a pastor: to proclaim and interpret Scripture, to guide people into a life of prayer, to encourage faith, to represent the mercy and forgiveness of Christ at special times of need, to train people to live as disciples in their families, in their communities and in their work. In fact I had been hired to help run a church and do it as efficiently as possible: to be a cheerleader to this dynamic organization, to recruit members, to lend the dignity of my office to certain ceremonial occasions, to promote the image of a prestigious religious institution. I got out of there as quickly as I could decently manage it. At the time I thought I had just been unlucky. Later I came to realize that what I experienced was not at all uncommon.
Eugene H. Peterson (Run with the Horses: The Quest for Life at Its Best)
And God himself will have his servants, and his graces, tried and exercised by difficulties. He never intended us the reward for sitting still; nor the crown of victory, without a fight; nor a fight, without an enemy and opposition. Innocent Adam was unfit for his state of confirmation and reward, till he had been tried by temptation. therefore the martyrs have the most glorious crown, as having undergone the greatest trial. and shall we presume to murmur at the method of God? And Satan, having liberty to tempt and try us, will quickly raise up storms and waves before us, as soon as we are set to sea: which make young beginners often fear, that they shall never live to reach the haven. He will show thee the greatness of thy former sins, to persuade thee that they shall not be pardoned. he will show thee the strength of thy passions and corruption, to make thee think they will never be overcome. he will show thee the greatness of the opposition and suffering which thou art like to undergo, to make thee think thou shall never persevere. He will do his worst to poverty, losses , crosses, injuries, vexations, and cruelties, yea , and unkind dearest friends, as he did by Job, to ill of God, or of His service. If he can , he will make them thy enemies that are of thine own household. He will stir up thy own father, or mother, or husband, or wife, or brother, or sister, or children, against thee, to persuade or persecute thee from Christ: therefore Christ tells us, that if we hate not all these that is cannot forsake them, and use them as men do hated things; when they would turn us from him, we cannot be his disciples". Look for the worst that the devil can do against thee, if thou hast once lifted thyself against him, in the army of Christ, and resolvest, whatever it cost thee, to be saved. Read heb.xi. But How little cause you have to be discouraged, though earth and hell should do their worst , you may perceive by these few considerations. God is on your side, who hath all your enemies in his hand, and can rebuke them, or destroy them in a moment. O what is the breath or fury of dust or devils, against the Lord Almighty? "If God be for us, who can be against us?" read often that chapter, Rom. viii. In the day when thou didst enter into covenant with God, and he with thee, thou didst enter into the most impregnable rock and fortress, and house thyself in that castle of defense, where thought mayst (modestly)defy all adverse powers of earth or hell. If God cannot save thee, he is not God. And if he will not save thee, he must break his covenant. Indeed, he may resolve to save thee, not from affliction and persecution, but in it, and by it. But in all these sufferings you will "be more than conquerors, through Christ that loveth you;" that is, it is far more desirable and excellent, to conquer by patience, in suffering for Christ, than to conquer our persecutors in the field, by force arms. O think on the saints triumphant boastings in their God:" God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble: therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea". when his " enemies were many" and "wrested his words daily," and "fought against him, and all their thoughts were against him, " yet he saith, "What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. in God I will praise his word; in God I have put my trust: I will not fear what flesh can do unto me". Remember Christ's charge, " Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: fear him, which after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you , Fear him" if all the world were on they side, thou might yet have cause to fear; but to have God on thy side, is infinitely more. Practical works of Richard Baxter,Ch 2 Directions to Weak Christians for Their Establishment and Growth, page 43.
Richard Baxter
While the founder [of any religious or spiritual system] was still walking among his followers and disciples, the latter did not distinguish between the person of their leader and his teaching; for the teaching was realized in the person and the person was livingly explained in the teaching. To embrace the teaching was to follow his steps - that is, to believe in him. His presence among them was enough to inspire them and convince them of the truth of his teaching... So long as he lived among them and spoke to them his teaching and his person appealed to them as an individual unity. But things went differently when his stately and inspiring personality was no more seen in the flesh... The similarities that were, either consciously or unconsciously, recognized as existing in various forms between leader and disciple gradually vanished, and as they vanished, the other side - that is, that which made him so distinctly different from his followers - came to assert itself all the more emphatically and irresistibly. The result was the conviction that he must have come from quite a unique spiritual source. The process of deification thus constantly went on until, some centuries after the death of the Master, he became a direct manifestation of the Supreme Being himself - in fact, he was the Highest One in the flesh, in him there was a divine humanity in perfect realization... Indeed, the teaching is to be interpreted in the light of the teacher's divine personality. The latter now predominates over the whole system; he is the centre whence radiate the rays of Enlightenment, salvation is only possible in believing in him as saviour.
D.T. Suzuki (Essays in Zen Buddhism, First Series)
Prayer and Meditation Matthew 14 AND HE WENT UP INTO THE MOUNTAIN APART TO PRAY This was always the practice of Jesus when he would move into the masses, the crowd, afterwards he would go alone into deep prayer and meditation. Why did he do this? If you have been meditating, you will understand. You will understand that once you start meditating, a very fragile and delicate quality of consciousness is born in you. A flower of the unknown, of the beyond, starts opening, which is delicate. And whenever you move into the crowd, you lose something. Whenever you come back from the crowd, you come back lesser than you had gone. Something has been lost, some contact has been lost. The crowd pulls you down, it has a gravitation of it's own. You may not feel it if you live on the same plane of consciousness. Then there is no problem, then you have nothing to lose. In fact, when you live in the crowd, on the same plane, alone you feel very uneasy. When you are with people, you feel good and happy. But alone, you feel sad, your aloneness is not aloneness. It is loneliness, you miss the other. You do not find yourself in the aloneness, you simply miss the other. When you are alone, you are not alone, beacuse you are not there. Only the desire to be with others is there - that is what loneliness is. Always remember the distinction between aloneness and loneliness. Aloneness is a peak experience - loneliness is a valley. Aloneness has light in it, loneliness is dark. Loneliness is when you desire others; aloneness is when you enjoy yourself. When Jesus would move into the masses, into the crowd, he would tell his disciples to got to the other shore of the lake, and he would move into total aloneness. Not even the disciples were allowed to be with him. This was a constant practice with him. Whenever you go into the crowd, you are infected by it. You need a higher altitude to purify yourself, you need to be alone so that you can become fresh again. You need to be alone with yourself, so that you become together again. You need to be alone, so that you become centered and rooted in yourself again. Whenever you move with others, they push you off centre. AND WHEN THE EVENING WAS COME, HE WAS THERE ALONE Nothing is said about his prayer in the Bible, just the word "prayer". Before God or before existence, you simply need to be vulnerable - that is prayer. You are no to say something. So when you go into prayer, don't start saying something. It will all be desires, demands and deep complaints to God. And prayer with complaints is no prayer, a prayer with deep gratitude is prayer. There is no need to say something, you can just be silent. Hence nothing is said about what Jesus did in his aloneness. It simply says "apart to pray". He went apart, he became alone. That is what prayer is, to be alone, where the other is not felt, where the other is not standing between you and existence. When God's breeze can pass througn you, unhindered. It is a cleansing experience. It revejunates your spirit. To be with God simply means to be alone. You can miss the point, if you start thinking about God, then you are not alone. If you start talking to God, then in imagination you have created the other. And then you God is a projection, it will be a projection of your father. A prayer is not to say something. It is to be silent, open, available. And there is no need to believe in God, because that too is a projection. The only need is to be alone, to be capable of being alone - and immediately you are with God. Whenever you are alone, you are with God.
Swami Dhyan Giten (The Way, the Truth and the Life: On Jesus Christ, the Man, the Mystic and the Rebel)
Biblia pamoja na historia vinatwambia kuwa mitume kumi na wawili wa Yesu Kristo waliamua kufa kinyama kama mfalme wao alivyokufa, kwa sababu walikataa kukana imani yao juu ya Yesu Kristo. Mathayo alikufa kwa ajili ya Ukristo nchini Ethiopia kwa jeraha lililotokana na kisu kikali, Marko akavutwa na farasi katika mitaa ya Alexandria nchini Misri mpaka akafa, kwa sababu alikataa kukana jina la Yesu Kristo. Luka alinyongwa nchini Ugiriki kwa sababu ya kuhubiri Injili ya Yesu Kristo katika nchi ambapo watu hawakumtambua Yesu. Yohana alichemshwa katika pipa la mafuta ya moto katika kipindi cha mateso makubwa ya Wakristo nchini Roma, lakini kimiujiza akaponea chupuchupu, kabla ya kufungwa katika gereza la kisiwa cha Patmo (Ugiriki) ambapo ndipo alipoandika kitabu cha Ufunuo. Mtume Yohana baadaye aliachiwa huru na kurudi Uturuki, ambapo alimtumikia Bwana kama Askofu wa Edessa. Alikufa kwa uzee, akiwa mtume pekee aliyekufa kwa amani. Petro alisulubiwa kichwa chini miguu juu katika msalaba wa umbo la X kulingana na desturi za kikanisa za kipindi hicho, kwa sababu aliwaambia maadui zake ya kuwa alijisikia vibaya kufa kama alivyokufa mfalme wake Yesu Kristo. Yakobo ndugu yake na Yesu (Yakobo Mkubwa), kiongozi wa kanisa mjini Yerusalemu, alirushwa kutoka juu ya mnara wa kusini-mashariki wa hekalu aliloliongoza la Hekalu Takatifu (zaidi ya futi mia moja kwenda chini) na baadaye kupigwa kwa virungu mpaka akafa, alipokataa kukana imani yake juu ya Yesu Kristo. Yakobo mwana wa Zebedayo (Yakobo Mdogo) alikuwa mvuvi kabla Yesu Kristo hajamwita kuwa mchungaji wa Injili yake. Kama kiongozi wa kanisa hatimaye, Yakobo aliuwawa kwa kukatwa kichwa mjini Yerusalemu. Afisa wa Kirumi aliyemlinda Yakobo alishangaa sana jinsi Yakobo alivyolinda imani yake siku kesi yake iliposomwa. Baadaye afisa huyo alimsogelea Yakobo katika eneo la mauti. Nafsi yake ilipomsuta, alijitoa hatiani mbele ya hakimu kwa kumkubali Yesu Kristo kama kiongozi wa maisha yake; halafu akapiga magoti pembeni kwa Yakobo, ili na yeye akatwe kichwa kama mfuasi wa Yesu Kristo. Bartholomayo, ambaye pia alijulikana kama Nathanali, alikuwa mmisionari huko Asia. Alimshuhudia Yesu mfalme wa wafalme katika Uturuki ya leo. Bartholomayo aliteswa kwa sababu ya mahubiri yake huko Armenia, ambako inasemekana aliuwawa kwa kuchapwa bakora mbele ya halaiki ya watu iliyomdhihaki. Andrea alisulubiwa katika msalaba wa X huko Patras nchini Ugiriki. Baada ya kuchapwa bakora kinyama na walinzi saba, alifungwa mwili mzima kwenye msalaba ili ateseke zaidi. Wafuasi wake waliokuwepo katika eneo la tukio waliripoti ya kuwa, alipokuwa akipelekwa msalabani, Andrea aliusalimia msalaba huo kwa maneno yafuatayo: "Nimekuwa nikitamani sana na nimekuwa nikiitegemea sana saa hii ya furaha. Msalaba uliwekwa wakfu na Mwenyezi Mungu baada ya mwili wa Yesu Kristo kuning’inizwa juu yake." Aliendelea kuwahubiria maadui zake kwa siku mbili zaidi, akiwa msalabani, mpaka akaishiwa na nguvu na kuaga dunia. Tomaso alichomwa mkuki nchini India katika mojawapo ya safari zake za kimisionari akiwa na lengo la kuanzisha kanisa la Yesu Kristo katika bara la India. Mathiya alichaguliwa na mitume kuchukua nafasi ya Yuda Iskarioti, baada ya kifo cha Yuda katika dimbwi la damu nchini India. Taarifa kuhusiana na maisha na kifo cha Mathiya zinachanganya na hazijulikani sawasawa. Lakini ipo imani kwamba Mathiya alipigwa mawe na Wayahudi huko Yerusalemu, kisha akauwawa kwa kukatwa kichwa. Yuda Tadei, ndugu yake na Yesu, aliuwawa kwa mishale alipokataa kukana imani yake juu ya Yesu Kristo. Mitume walikuwa na imani kubwa kwa sababu walishuhudia ufufuo wa Yesu Kristo, na miujiza mingine. Biblia ni kiwanda cha imani. Tunapaswa kuiamini Biblia kama mitume walivyomwamini Yesu Kristo, kwa sababu Biblia iliandikwa na mitume.
Enock Maregesi
A veritable pacifist when it comes to social guilds or luncheon clubs, I turn into something of a militant on the subject of the only true and living Church on the face of the earth. . . . Setting aside for a time the heavenly host we hope one day to enjoy, I still choose the church of Jesus Christ to fill my need to be needed--here and now, as well as there and then. When public problems or private heartaches come--as surely they do come--I will be most fortunate if in that hour I find myself in the company of Latter-day Saints. . . . When asked "What can I know?" a Latter-day Saint answers, "All that God knows." When asked "What ought I to do?" his disciples answer, "Follow the Master." When asked "What may I hope?" an entire dispensation declares, "Peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come" (D&C 59:23), indeed ultimately for "all that [the] Father hath" (D&C 84:38). Depressions and identity crises have a hard time holding up under that response. . . . We cannot but wonder what frenzy the world would experience if a chapter of the Book of Mormon or a section of the Doctrine and Covenants or a conference address by President Spencer W. Kimball were to be discovered by some playful shepherd boy in an earthen jar near the Dead Sea caves of Qumran. The beneficiaries would probably build a special shrine in Jerusalem to house it, being very careful to regulate temperatures and restrict visitors. They would undoubtedly protect against earthquakes and war. Surely the edifice would be as beautiful as the contents would be valuable; its cost would be enormous, but its worth would be incalculable. Yet for the most part we have difficulty giving away copies of sacred scripture much more startling in their origin. Worse yet, some of us, knowing of the scriptures, have not even tried to share them, as if an angel were an every-day visitor and a prophet just another man in the street. We forget that our fathers lived for many centuries without priesthood power or prophetic leadership, and "dark ages" they were indeed.
Jeffrey R. Holland
In John 9, Jesus healed a blind man on the sabbath. The leaders of the people, proud of being Moses’ disciples (v. 28), “knew” that Jesus could not possibly be of God because he did not observe their restrictions on working during the sabbath (v. 16). They just “knew” that this man Jesus was a sinner because they “knew” the Bible. And they “knew” that the Bible said you were not supposed to do the kinds of things Jesus was doing on the sabbath. Therefore, since this man Jesus did these kinds of things on the sabbath, he was a sinner. These leaders had good, reliable general knowledge of how things were supposed to be. For his part, the man healed could only report, “I do not know whether he [Jesus] is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see” (Jn 9:25). But that was not in the Bible, in the law. The leaders had their own guidance, and they thought it was sufficient. But it was not sufficient, though it was very respectable and generally accepted. For it allowed them to condemn the power and works of love in Jesus himself: “We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from” (v. 29). “We don’t know!” That is perhaps the most self-damning statement they could possibly have made. They looked at what Jesus did and said, “We don’t know what this person is doing. We don’t know where he is coming from. We don’t know that he is of God.” Why didn’t they know? What they were really confessing was that they did not know who God is or what his works are. In their own way they shared Nicodemus’s problem of not being able to see the kingdom of God—though they were sure that in fact they did. Many stand in that same place today. They could look at the greatest works of love and righteousness and if those works did not conform either to their legalistic ideas of what the Bible or their church teaches, or to what their own subjective experiences confirm, they could condemn those works without batting an eyelid, saying, “We know that this is wrong!” We all need to be delivered from such knowledge! When facing the mad religionist or blind legalist, we have no recourse, no place to stand, if we do not have firsthand experience of hearing God’s voice, held safely within a community of brothers and sisters in Christ who also have such knowledge of God’s personal dealings with their own souls.[18]
Dallas Willard (Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God)
Cultivate Spiritual Allies One of the most significant things you learn from the life of Paul is that the self-made man is incomplete. Paul believed that mature manhood was forged in the body of Christ In his letters, Paul talks often about the people he was serving and being served by in the body of Christ. As you live in the body of Christ, you should be intentional about cultivating at least three key relationships based on Paul’s example: 1. Paul: You need a mentor, a coach, or shepherd who is further along in their walk with Christ. You need the accountability and counsel of more mature men. Unfortunately, this is often easier said than done. Typically there’s more demand than supply for mentors. Some churches try to meet this need with complicated mentoring matchmaker type programs. Typically, you can find a mentor more naturally than that. Think of who is already in your life. Is there an elder, a pastor, a professor, a businessman, or other person that you already respect? Seek that man out; let him know that you respect the way he lives his life and ask if you can take him out for coffee or lunch to ask him some questions — and then see where it goes from there. Don’t be surprised if that one person isn’t able to mentor you in everything. While he may be a great spiritual mentor, you may need other mentors in the areas of marriage, fathering, money, and so on. 2. Timothy: You need to be a Paul to another man (or men). God calls us to make disciples (Matthew 28:19). The books of 1st and 2nd Timothy demonstrate some of the investment that Paul made in Timothy as a younger brother (and rising leader) in the faith. It’s your job to reproduce in others the things you learn from the Paul(s) in your life. This kind of relationship should also be organic. You don’t need to approach strangers to offer your mentoring services. As you lead and serve in your spheres of influence, you’ll attract other men who want your input. Don’t be surprised if they don’t quite know what to ask of you. One practical way to engage with someone who asks for your input is to suggest that they come up with three questions that you can answer over coffee or lunch and then see where it goes from there. 3. Barnabas: You need a go-to friend who is a peer. One of Paul’s most faithful ministry companions was named Barnabas. Acts 4:36 tells us that Barnabas’s name means “son of encouragement.” Have you found an encouraging companion in your walk with Christ? Don’t take that friendship for granted. Enjoy the blessing of friendship, of someone to walk through life with. Make it a priority to build each other up in the faith. Be a source of sharpening iron (Proverbs 27:17) and friendly wounds (Proverbs 27:6) for each other. But also look for ways to work together to be disruptive — in the good sense of that word. Challenge each other in breaking the patterns of the world around you in order to interrupt it with the Gospel. Consider all the risky situations Paul and Barnabas got themselves into and ask each other, “what are we doing that’s risky for the Gospel?
Randy Stinson (A Guide To Biblical Manhood)
To my great distress, I sometimes hear people say, in their zeal for fervency and efficacy in prayer, that we should never qualify our prayer requests with the words "if it be Your will." Some will even say that to attach those words, those conditional terms, to our prayers is an act of unbelief. We are told today that in the boldness of faith we are to "name it and claim it." I suppose I should be more measured in my response to this trend, but I can't think of anything more foreign to the teaching of Christ. We come to the presence of God in boldness, but never in arrogance. Yes, we can name and claim those things God has clearly promised in Scripture. For instance, we can claim the certainty of forgiveness if we confess our sins before Him, because He promises that. But when it comes to getting a raise, purchasing a home, or finding healing from a disease, God hasn't made those kind of specific promises anywhere in Scripture, so we are not free to name and claim those things. As I mentioned earlier, when we come before God, we must remember two simple facts-who He is and who we are. We must remember that we're talking to the King, the Sovereign One, the Creator, but we are only creatures. If we will keep those facts in mind, we will pray politely. We will say, "By Your leave," "As You wish," "If You please," and so on. That's the way we go before God. To say that it is a manifestation of unbelief or a weakness of faith to say to God "if it be Your will" is to slander the very Lord of the Lord's Prayer. It was Jesus, after all, who, in His moment of greatest passion, prayed regarding the will of God. In his Gospel, Luke tells us that immediately following the Last Supper: Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him. When He came to the place, He said to them, "Pray that you may not enter into temptation." And He was withdrawn from them about a stone's throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done." Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:39-44) It is important to see what Jesus prays here. He says, "Not My will, but Yours, be done." Jesus was not saying, "I don't want to be obedient" or "I refuse to submit." Jesus was saying: "Father, if there's any other way, all things being equal, I would rather not have to do it this way. What You have set before Me is more ghastly than I can contemplate. I'm entering into My grand passion and I'm terrified, but if this is what You want, this is what I'll do. Not My will, but Your will, be done, because My will is to do Your will." I also want you to notice what happened after Jesus prayed. Luke tells us that an angel came to Him and strengthened Him. The angel was the messenger of God. He came from heaven with the Father's answer to Jesus' prayer. That answer was this: "You must drink the cup." This is what it means to pray that the will of God would be done. It is the highest expression of faith to submit to the sovereignty of God. The real prayer of faith is the prayer that trusts God no matter whether the answer is yes or no. It takes no faith to "claim," like a robber, something that is not ours to claim. We are to come to God and tell Him what we want, but we must trust Him to give the answer that is best for us. That is what Jesus did.
R.C. Sproul (The Prayer of the Lord)
Notice that Jesus knows exactly who he is asking to lead his community: a sinner. As all Christian leaders have been, are, and will be, Peter is imperfect. And as all good Christian leaders are, Peter is well aware of his imperfections. The disciples too know who they are getting as their leader. They will not need—or be tempted—to elevate Peter into some semi-divine figure; they have seen him at his worst. Jesus forgives Peter because he loves him, because he knows that his friend needs forgiveness to be free, and because he knows that the leader of his church will need to forgive others many times. And Jesus forgives totally, going beyond what would be expected—going so far as to establish Peter as head of the church.11 It would have made more earthly sense for Jesus to appoint another, non-betraying apostle to head his church. Why give the one who denied him this important leadership role? Why elevate the manifestly sinful one over the rest? One reason may be to show the others what forgiveness is. In this way Jesus embodies the Father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, who not only forgives the son, but also, to use a fishing metaphor, goes overboard. Jesus goes beyond forgiving and setting things right. A contemporary equivalent would be a tenured professor stealing money from a university, apologizing, being forgiven by the board of trustees, and then being hired as the school’s president. People would find this extraordinary—and it is. In response, Peter will ultimately offer his willingness to lay down his life for Christ. But on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he can’t know the future. He can’t understand fully what he is agreeing to. Feed your sheep? Which sheep? The Twelve? The disciples? The whole world? This is often the case for us too. Even if we accept the call we can be confused about where God is leading us. When reporters used to ask the former Jesuit superior general Pedro Arrupe where the Jesuit Order was going, he would say, “I don’t know!” Father Arrupe was willing to follow, even if he didn’t know precisely what God had in mind. Peter says yes to the unknowable, because the question comes from Jesus. Both Christ’s forgiveness and Peter’s response show us love. God’s love is limitless, unconditional, radical. And when we have experienced that love, we can share it. The ability to forgive and to accept forgiveness is an absolute requirement of the Christian life. Conversely, the refusal to forgive leads ineluctably to spiritual death. You may know families in which vindictiveness acts like a cancer, slowly eating away at love. You may know people whose marriages have been destroyed by a refusal to forgive. One of my friends described a couple he knew as “two scorpions in a jar,” both eagerly waiting to sting the other with barbs and hateful comments. We see the communal version of this in countries torn by sectarian violence, where a climate of mutual recrimination and mistrust leads only to increasing levels of pain. The Breakfast by the Sea shows that Jesus lived the forgiveness he preached. Jesus knew that forgiveness is a life-giving force that reconciles, unites, and empowers. The Gospel by the Sea is a gospel of forgiveness, one of the central Christian virtues. It is the radical stance of Jesus, who, when faced with the one who denied him, forgave him and appointed him head of the church, and the man who, in agony on the Cross, forgave his executioners. Forgiveness is a gift to the one who forgives, because it frees from resentment; and to the one who needs forgiveness, because it frees from guilt. Forgiveness is the liberating force that allowed Peter to cast himself into the water at the sound of Jesus’s voice, and it is the energy that gave him a voice with which to testify to his belief in Christ.
James Martin (Jesus: A Pilgrimage)