Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Discipleship series # 17: Building and Battling

In almost every church there are two kinds of Christians: spiritual and carnal. The spiritual are concerned with building lives for Christ and battling Satan who seeks to destroy God’s work.  The carnal are more concerned with their own feelings and selfish desires and ambitions.  They have little or no devotion to Christ nor to the ministry of building up others; but they are devoted to having their own way.  Life centers around them. Rather than battling Satan, they are being used of Satan to attempt to actively or even passively hinder and destroy God’s work.  

The question each of us should ask ourselves is, “Am I being used by the Holy Spirit to encourage and build up others in Christ, or am I being used by Satan to discourage and destroy others?”  Salvation is free and available to any sinner who will call on Christ to save him.  Discipleship is restricted to the few who will pay the price. We dealt with that high cost  in the previous message in this series. 

The cost of discipleship is severe. Luke14:25-33  It involves:

1. An unrivaled love for Christ 

2. An unavoidable cross as we identify with Christ in His sufferings.

 3. And unselfish devotion to Christ for the good of others. 

Why are the requirement and cost so severe?  For the same reason that standards are high in special branches of the military, such a Navy Seals, or fighter pilots or Special Forces.  The cost of discipleship is high because it involves building and battling for Christ. Charles H. Spurgeon, British pastor of the nineteenth century, understood this and published his paper, The Sword and the Trowel in which he showed the Christian ministry is involved in building lives for Christ and battling Satan in the process. 

Not only are the requirements of discipleship severe, but they are humanly impossible. The standards are beyond our natural ability. They are supernatural.  That’s why we have to count the cost.  It takes God’s power and resources to do His work.  That’s what Jesus taught in His stories in Luke 14:28-33.  Without God’s resources and power, we will crack up and burn out.  In fact, we may even compromise God’s message to make it more palatable to the natural man so we can attract crowds and have what is popularly called “success”.  

Discipleship involves building.  Luke 14:28-30 


In Luke 14:28-30 we have an example of a man attempting to build a tower; perhaps a look-out tower or a silo for grain.  Whatever it is, he must first ask himself whether he has the resources to build it.  How embarrassing it would be to lay the foundation and then leave it incomplete because he lacks the funds to  complete it!    So we are challenged to count the cost before we attempt to serve the Lord as His disciples.  

Building lives for the Lord involves both a negative and positive aspect.  These are pointed out in Jeremiah 1:10. They involve both the tearing down of that which is worthless and harmful in our lives and the building up of that which is useful and of eternal value. Nehemiah  was called of God to lead the rebuilding of the broken walls of Jerusalem after the Babylonian invasion and seventy year captivity of Israel.   In Nehemiah 4:17-18 we learn that his work was constantly beset by enemies seeking to discourage and destroy and so each worker  carried a sword on his side as he built. The Bible constantly warns throughout of the dangers of false doctrine and those enemies of the Gospel who would seek to nullify the Gospel of God’s grace. Christians are constantly warned to reject their teachings and have no fellowship with them.  For a fuller treatment of this topic see our series on SEPARATION on this website. 

Many Christians in this last half century despise and reject this unpopular doctrine.  They don’t practice it nor preach it because of the fear of being labeled narrow, unloving or legalistic.   Jesus warned in Matthew 7  that His way was narrow and unpopular and that most would prefer the broad way.  A Christian who obeys Christ in this matter does not have to be unloving, rude or obnoxious. 

The Biblical doctrine of SEPARATION needs to be practiced and preached in churches. This doctrine is as important a Fundamental of the Faith as the deity of Christ or the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible.  Jude 3 & 4 teaches that contending for the faith is as important as declaring the faith. Throughout  Paul’s epistles he devotes himself to building lives to maturity and battling those Satanic forces that would attempt to destroy Christians.  

If you’ve read much of this web site, you can’t avoid being aware that we also are devoted to building and battling for Christ. What are we building? We are building up lives in the most holy faith. Jude 20.  We are seeking to build Christian homes on Christ. We are building Christ’s Church for a habitation of God. We are His temple.  Ephesians 2:19-22. We are building walls of separation from the wicked world system and from false doctrine.  

At the same time we are seeking to tear down walls of separation from Christians who differ in lesser matters and we are encouraging Christians to develop loving relationships with the lost around them.  Both emphases are necessary.  We must love sinners but reject their sin and false, unbiblical teachings. We must love and accept our brothers and sisters in Christ even though we cannot always agree with them in every detail of doctrine.

  

Discipleship also involves battling. Luke 14:31-32

Here is another story of the cost of discipleship.  A king with an army of 10,000 must consider how he is going to protect his people from an advancing army of 20,000. Will the battle be worth the certain bloodshed and possible defeat?  Is there a way to negotiate peace and avoid the bloody conflict? These two examples illustrate that there are issues in life that are important enough to carefully evaluate our reasons for engaging in battle or avoiding conflict,  as well as calculating our resources for battle.  

Our resources are the Bible, (the Sword of the Spirit)  and the omnipotent power of the Holy Spirit to do what we cannot do in ourselves.  Using these two supernatural resources, the Church must be involved in evangelism and discipleship.  That’s our reason  for remaining on this earth.  Otherwise, Christ would whisk us off to Heaven the moment we were saved.  Satan is very much alive in churches as he seeks to distract us and  focus our attention on everything else but evangelism and discipleship.  

Discipleship is influence.  Luke 14:34-35

In the NASB version of the Bible verse 34 begins with the word therefore showing us there is a connection between discipleship and salt.  It is a well known fact that a little salt not only enhances the taste of food, but it also is used to preserve food.  We learn in the Old Testament that salt was used in sacrifices and in covenants to illustrate their permanence.  Jesus in Matthew 5:13-16 used light and salt to illustrate the purifying influence of Christians on society. 

If our testimony as Christians is not real and fresh and lasting, then we are useless and worthless disciples. We are good for nothing. Christ is looking for long term, permanent disciples who are willing to devote their lives to Him.  He is looking for disciples with Christian character who will stand for Him and attract other to Christ by our lives.  

Are you ready and willing to be His disciple?  It will cost  you everything, perhaps your life.  The question, “Who is sufficient?” in II Corinthians 2:16 in answered in the next chapter, 3:5  “Christ is our sufficiency.” Are you listening to His call as you read His Word?  Note the final call in our text in Luke 14:35. “He that has ears to hear, let him hear.”   You’ll find that same challenge given repeatedly to the seven churches of Asia Minor in Revelations 2 and 3.   Jesus calls you to trust Him for salvation and He calls you to be His faithful disciple.  Will you say yes now?  Or will you reject Him now and take the risk of perhaps never hearing His voice again? 

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August 23, 2006 - Posted by | Discipleship

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