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Author Topic: The Armour of God: a Call to Authentic Discipleship  (Read 2628 times)
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« on: April 20, 2015, 11:46:37 PM »

THE ARMOUR OF GOD
A CALL TO AUTHENTIC DISCIPLESHIP

by
Les Aron Gosling, Messianic Rebbe

CAUTION: These BRI Expositions are not available to the general public. They are not for distribution. They are not for reproduction. The notes may also bear little or no resemblance to the actual audio or video recorded BRI Yeshiva lecture.

Copyright © BRI 2004 All Rights Reserved Worldwide by Les Aron Gosling
Messianic Lecturer (BRI/IMCF)


“All men use the power of God,
but those who use it in full consciousness have to be particularly careful
how they use it” - Alan Watts


INTRODUCTION

Some General Observations

“When we are willing to die on the crosses of other people's needs, then we are following in the footsteps of Jesus” – George Digel.

“There is one respect in which beasts show real wisdom... their quiet, placid enjoyment of the present moment” – Schopenhauer.

“Pride is the cholesterol that plugs up the free flow of the Gospel” – Jan Doward.

“The trouble with some of us is that we have been inoculated with small doses of Christianity which keep us from catching the real thing” – Leslie Dixon Weatherhead.

“Worry is faith working backward. You have perfect faith that everything's going to go wrong – and it does!” – Ben Glanzer.

“Men have attempted to deodorise sin by squirting it from an aerosol can labelled 'situation ethics'” – Eugene Lincoln.

“A stern discipline pervades all nature, which is a little cruel that it may be very kind” – Edmund Spenser.

“You never will be the person you can be if pressure, tension, and discipline are taken out of your life” – James G. Bilkey.

“What we do on some great occasion will probably depend on what we already are; and what we are will be the result of previous years of self-discipline” – H.P. Liddon.

“He who has learned to obey will know how to command” – Solon.

“Man is still responsible. He must turn the alloy of modern experience into the steel of mastery and character. His success lies not with the stars but with himself. He must carry on the fight of self-correction and discipline. He must fight mediocrity as sin and live against the imperative of life's highest ideal” – Frank Curtis Williams.

“Christianity is a battle, not a dream” – Wendell Phillips.

“Christianity does not remove you from the world and its problems; it makes you fit to live in it, triumphantly and usefully” – Charles Templeton.

An Important Consideration

According to the Great Commission, given by Our Lord Yeshua to His original emissaries, and thus to the “Church” (ekklesia) generally and universally, we are to “Go... and make disciples [to make disciples to make disciples to and etcetera]” – Matthew 28.19a.

And so, faithfully, because Yeshua said “Go!” we have gone from our lands of birth and gone to pagan, heathen regions teaching and preaching the Word and bearing witness that “Jesus” saves.

We have gone from triumph to triumph, and we have gone from triumph to victory.

We have also gone from financial success to economic ruin.

We have gone from our comfort zone to despair in a cannibals' cooking pot.

We have gone sometimes from disaster to more disaster.

Some of us, like poor Alexander Crudens (who laboriously slaved away creating a concordance to save us unnecessary study and research), have literally gone mad.

Overall, what has been achieved in both missionary and evangelistic outreach is awesome and highly commendable.

But we have not always properly perceived of what exactly the Great Commission consists. The truth is that the Great Commission is not to “Go” but to “make disciples of all nations.” Of course, unless we “go” we cannot get to other lands to spread the Gospel! This goes without saying! But the command of Our Lord Yeshua, in the Greek, really means “As you live, make disciples [talmidim] of all nations.” That's the Great Commission!

“As you live” means where you are, in your job, in your family surroundings, at a party, attending a wedding, soaking up a sweat in a sauna – wherever you are, wherever you happen to find yourself.

To pack up and leave family, home and friends is a very special calling on its own: like becoming a eunuch. Not all of us ever receive that kind of personal commission. And Yeshua fully understood this. That's why He actually said, “As you live.” This is why some versions of the Bible, not wanting to dampen a wonderful tradition, translate “Go” with “As you are going, make disciples.” It's a comfortable compromise.

But you cannot really “make disciples” by yelling aloud on street corners persecuting others with the Gospel! The Bible nowhere demands such stupidity from any of us. We cannot authentically make true disciples unless

(a) the targets first know us and

(b) they first ask us concerning the hope that lies within our hearts (1 Peter 3.15).

Quite apparently potential Christian converts must at least know us to the degree that they realise something about us is very different from others they have known.

God's sovereignty in His salvation act demands they first are given an impetus to enquire.

To repeat: they have to first SEE that you are different from others to even ASK what it is that gives you such dynamic PURPOSE and steadfast DETERMINATION in life, self-sacrificial LOVE toward others, along with your resilient REFUSAL TO COMPROMISE your ethical and moral view of life.

So recall, as you read the present lectures on “Discipleship” the Great Commission is not to “Go!” but to “make disciples” to make disciples to make disciples to make disciples to...

In Jewish thoughtform, life is the experience you bring to it.

Of itself, life has no meaning.

Only when we realise that we are alive, and owe it to ourselves to be TRULY and RADICALLY ALIVE, only then does life have any meaning. This is what is called enlightenment.

True enlightenment involves our willingness to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is awaiting us. Yet our pursuit of “the life” we may choose cannot be entertained apart from the discipleship we owe to the One who said of Himself,

“I am... the LIFE” (John 14.6).

“I am come that they might have LIFE, and have it more abundantly” (John 10.10).

“In [Yeshua] was LIFE and the LIFE was the [en]LIGHT[enment] of men” (John 1.4).

“He that believes not the Son shall not see LIFE” (John 3.36).

In His call to personal discipleship, to the immediate followers of John the Immerser, Our Lord Yeshua said: “Come unto me, all you that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me: for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11.28-30).

Walking with Messiah in discipleship! What an awesome thought to contemplate! Since His appeal to these men, hundreds of millions right around the earth have responded to the religion about “Jesus.” Countless human-beings have accepted the religion called “Christianity.”

Some few have sincerely practiced its principles. But very few have ever become Messiah's disciples. So apostate has today's “churchianity” become that even fewer know exactly what it means to be a “disciple.”

In this series of expositions I have sought to make the truth about discipleship plain – easy to understand and to comprehend. Normally, I discourage the concepts of “steps to Christ” or “steps to...” anywhere. This is because...

Salvation is all of God.

It is all of Yeshua the Messiah. It is all of Grace, and not of works. This has always been my emphasis at the weekly BRI Yeshiva (School of Instruction), in the Advanced BRI Bible Class, and in the literature we have produced over the years (indeed, since 1981) including our (now obsolete) BRI/IMCF Study Manuals. But with the matter of discipleship it would be helpful to our readers of this present series of lectures if we started from “scratch,” as it were.

To begin with, having said that I normally disparage the idea of “steps” I have nevertheless taken the step to formulate seven useful steps in this instance that can be utilised to better come to terms with the principles involved in discipleship.

These are not THE seven steps, but I feel helpful steps nonetheless.

As we look in the Gospels and follow Yeshua in His earthly ministry we cannot help but see that these were some of the things that He did with His disciples, leading them along by the hand and introducing them to a greater, firmer, more joyful commitment. If your discipleship has no lasting joy, we need to ask why.

Isaiah wrote, concerning his relationship with God, “I will greatly REJOICE in Yahweh, my soul shall be JOYFUL in my God” (Isaiah 61.10).

Isaiah knew what is was to become depressed. He had many reasons to feel emotionally gloomy, mentally strained, physically stressed. He also knew that being tense and anxious created inharmonious vibrational energy, which, in its turn would enclose him psychologically within that negative field somewhat like a shell. Instead of giving in to his natural predisposition toward despair, Isaiah rejoiced in God and the beauty of His Creator.

Joy that is expressed in the very face of daily drudgery (which can be quite oppressive) and repetitive negative annual body rhythmic cycles (which behavioural scientists are now encouraging the afflicted to “map” or “chart”) can be the very essence which can turn your frightful circumstances into “victorious” Messianic discipleship.

Jehoshaphat, when coming face to face with the overwhelming military might of the Moabite and Ammonite forces, actually appointed singers to march before his soldiers, lifting their voices with exultant songs of praise and genuine thanksgiving. They were victorious.

Had not Moses given the command, originally, which rang with the power of cosmic authority? He exhorted Israel: “You shall REJOICE in ALL that you put your hand unto” (Deuteronomy 12.7).

Joy is sublime divine power and its expression brings forth divine results.

Seven Useful Steps In Discipleship

FIRST STEP. ACQUAINTANCE.

We need to know who Yeshua is. In John 1.35-51 we find that the some of the followers of the ascetic Essene John the Immerser (from Qumran) had heard about Yeshua, and Andrew was one of those who was following the Immerser when he met John's cousin, the Messiah. He had heard about Him. Indeed, John had told his closest disciples that he was only a forerunner, that the Messiah was to come after him, so Andrew went and saw Yeshua and learned about Him. Andrew then went and enthusiastically told his brother Kefa (Peter), and brought him to Yeshua. They asked if He was the Messiah and enquired where He was staying. Yeshua said, 'Come and see.' Deserting the Immerser, they became the disciples (the initial talmidim) of the New Israel.

And so we learn that the first step in discipleship is that of ACQUAINTANCE.

SECOND STEP. ASSOCIATION.

The very next step in walking with the Messiah in discipleship is that of ASSOCIATION. You have to take the step beyond ACQUAINTANCE of ASSOCIATING with Yeshua.

In Mark 1.16-20 we see Yeshua with Andrew and Peter and James (Yaakov) and John out in the fishing boat. This is the time Yeshua is associating with these men and giving them the call to 'follow' Him as His students (talmidim). The call to follow Yeshua in ASSOCIATION comes after the step of ACQUAINTANCE, and it comes during the time of ASSOCIATING with Yeshua – and Yeshua ASSOCIATING with them. This must sound tedious and repetitious, but a teacher must spend time ensuring that we all get the points he is attempting to make. But not only do we see in Mark 1.16-20 the step of ASSOCIATION but in Mark 3 Yeshua appointed Twelve from among those that were following Him to be emissaries (apostles).

THIRD STEP. APPOINTMENT.

An APPOINTMENT is the receiving of a special assignment or a special commission – of being “sent out” or “sent forth.” We find in Mark 6.7-11 as well as in Matthew 10.2-10 that the original Twelve received their commission directly from Yeshua. They received their appointment and were sent out.

As you follow these steps in personal discipleship you will see yourself

firstly getting acquainted with who Yeshua is,

secondly you will be meeting more often with Him and with His followers, then

thirdly you will be receiving a special appointment – probably conveyed by the Lord through the channel of heartfelt prayer in the form of a rhema (a mandate) – being given a specific assignment to accomplish for the Lord.

FOURTH STEP. AUTHORITY.

Now this may at first appear to be a strange step, but I personally believe that if Yeshua is going to give us an assignment – something to accomplish – He must grant us AUTHORITY to act in His Name. But there is also another angle to this AUTHORITY and that is we must learn to live under AUTHORITY.

None of us can dare venture to exercise AUTHORITY unless or until we have learned to be disciplined under that AUTHORITY.

We must determine to turn over every area of our life to the AUTHORITY of Yeshua. On the one hand I am using the term AUTHORITY to mean taking the AUTHORITY that Yeshua gives (as His followers) but in the other sense the term AUTHORITY means also being found under His AUTHORITY.

If God wants you to do something for Him He wants you first to be living under His AUTHORITY. Every area of our life must be submitted to the Messiah's SUPREMACY – to His LORDSHIP.

FIFTH STEP. APPROACH.

What approach should we take to the Work the Lord has called us to perform? It seems that Yeshua took quite a bit of time after giving His chosen disciples an appointment to take the step of ACTION, as we read in Matthew 10.11-14. There was no urgency, as far as Our Lord Yeshua was concerned, in God's economy.

But we must contemplate deeply our APPROACH.

SIXTH STEP. ACTION.

This is the difficult step. This is earnestly putting our hand to the plow, when we are afraid to do so.

This is putting our faith into ACTION, when we are afraid to do so.

This is hitting the street, when we are afraid to do so.

This is knocking on doors, when we are afraid to do so.

This is talking to people, when we are afraid to do so.

This is being friendly in evangelism, when we want to persecute with the Gospel.

It's where the rubber meets the road. It's ALL those old clichés and more! They are clichés because they are true. You really are expected to get out there AND MERCILESSLY PUT YOUR FEARS TO DEATH and put your faith into ACTION. This is where the exciting part of discipleship is found.

It's found in ACTION!

SEVENTH STEP. ACCOUNTABILITY.

When it comes to discipleship, we don't all go out and just “do our own thing” and never come back and report to the Lord.

We are ACCOUNTABLE. We are ACCOUNTABLE first of all to the Mashiach Himself.

Secondly, we are ACCOUNTABLE to one another, specifically to our own circle and, especially within such a framework, to the human Teacher or Rebbe whom God has appointed to be our Guide – to our own particular cell in the Body of Messiah.

Remember too, that while Rav Shaul (Paul) did not ultimately submit theologically to the demands of James and the Jerusalem Council, he certainly shared with them what the Lord was accomplishing through his hands. If brethren of another fellowship want to know what we are doing for Messiah – TELL THEM. Do not fear what man might think.

It's the Messiah that matters.

Acquaintance, association, appointment, authority, approach, action, accountability. In these SEVEN STEPS to discipleship – WHERE ARE YOU in your personal walk with the Lord?

Our Lord Yeshua has called certain people from all walks of life to follow Him. Men, women, boys and girls. One of the central themes of His entire ministry is summed up in the call to discipleship – “Follow me!” And this is not merely a “one-time call.” Graciously, it is repeated throughout our life, in a series of constant reminders. So we can look back on our life, and say “Yes, I remember five years ago when I became a Christian – when I yielded my heart, and turned over my life to Him by His saving Grace, and experienced His saving Grace.” Some of us may remember back 10 times that number of years. Fifty years ago.

But, no matter how many years ago it was that we first heard His call to follow Him as our Lord and Saviour that same call to follow our Lord continues all the way through our life.

One of the great dangers today is to follow a doctrine, to follow a denomination, or a dynamic leader instead of following the Messiah Himself.

Of course, structures or forms or personalities are essential to the communicating of the truth when within the pattern of a Christocentric foundation of evangelism. Obviously, wherever we have learned the truth it has inevitably been through some person who shared it with us. Where would any of us be if we never had the Church to communicate the truth and to pass it on? Where would we be if there was no agency in which to serve others, or through which to reach others with the Gospel of God's Grace?

Yet, while the Church is important, sometimes people tend to forget what WHO – they are following. They get “caught up” in the denomination. They get “caught up” in some “pet” doctrine. But the highest calling and the grandest destiny for any person is the call to Messianic discipleship – to follow Yeshua haMashiach, to be His student in His very own invisible College.

The central purpose then, of this series of lectures, is to enable you to examine yourself to see whether you are really all that serious about being a disciple of the Lord Yeshua. It's easy to be swayed from the Royal Path of Spiritual Nobility onto some other lesser trail – by following the opinions and ideas of others, or in following some denomination.

If you and I can answer the question “Who Am I?” with the clear and frank statement “I am Messiah's disciple” we will find ourselves well on The Way to a profound sense of personal fulfillment. Such knowledge that we are actual disciples of the Mashiach – knowing who we are in relation to the Lord and Saviour of the Universe – can grant us a whole new sense of personal self-worth.

What better thing could any of us desire than to KNOW that we are following Yeshua the Messiah, the manifestation of Creative Intelligence and Elegant Love which brought forth ALL things from out of Himself!

If any of our BRI/IMCF Yeshiva students cannot answer the question “Who am I?” by saying “I am a student or pupil of Yeshua the Messiah” I trust that you will come to grips with Him urgently as your own personal Lord and Saviour (Deliverer). If you are reading this book there's a very definite possibility that God IS calling you to serve Him now.

The word “disciple” is not just used of the Twelve whom Yeshua originally chose to become His apostles. In fact the word appears a total of 260 times in the Gospels and in Acts and it is used most often as to include believers other than the Twelve original pupils of Messiah. In Acts “disciple” is the term most frequently used to refer to Christians.

Believers were called “disciples” long before they were designated, by the pagan world, “Christians.” The term “Christian,” although a legitimate expression or appellation of a follower of Yeshua the Messiah, is only used infrequently in the Messianic Scriptures of the Yeshua School or Movement (the so-called “NT”).

Every Christian ought to automatically be a disciple. But such is not the case. Some follow the Lord more closely than others, but everyone naming “the name of Mashiach” should be aware of an expected obedience.

It's not enough for someone to declare, “Oh, but I just love 'Jesus.' I don't need to be His disciple. I just love the Lord.” I've personally heard that from Christians more times than I have bothered to count. The fact remains that genuine love always produces obedience. True love always leads to obedience. True love obeys.

Obedience is therefore the evidence of love. “You are my friends,” said the Lord Yeshua, “if you do whatsoever I command you” (John 15.14). “If you love me keep my commandments... He that has my commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves me. And he that loves me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with him. He that loves me not keeps not my sayings” (John 14.15, 21-24).

The apostle John, whom Yeshua loved, went so far as to say, “He that says I know him and keeps not his commandments IS A LIAR and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2.4).

Again, “This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not grievous [or, burdensome]” (1 John 5.3).

Discipleship involves OBEDIENCE to the Master.

Recall the FOURTH STEP – AUTHORITY. Only by being disciplined can we learn to be disciples.

The personal realisation that I am a disciple, and that you are a disciple of Yeshua the Messiah, begins to change our understanding of ourselves, and ultimately changes our entire life. If we can say that we are disciples then we will want to know more about Yeshua in order to follow Him better – more obediently. The Messiah calls us to follow Him – to believe Him (not just to believe IN Him).

To become Messiah's disciple is a unique and special kind of call.

Now, in leaving this Introduction to this important series of lectures, I want to share four ways in which the call to become a disciple is an especially HIGH calling.

Welcome Neophyte, to Lecture Two.


If you would like to continue studying the lecture series “THE ARMOUR OF GOD – A CALL TO AUTHENTIC DISCIPLESHIP” we would encourage you to become a member of the International Messianic Community of Faith (IMCF). The way to become a member is to get behind this ministry and Work of God by sharing your financial blessings as frequently as God desires of you. Our very survival depends on the generosity of our students/members.

We are not subject to any church or religious organisation of men, and are not under any authoritarian church board of any church, denomination, or sect. We are entirely free in the Mashiach Yeshua, and will not be muzzled by so-called religious pastoral “coverings.” We are not asking for a “tithe.” The paying of a Levitical tithe based on “net” or “gross” is illegal as far as God the Father, Yeshua (and the Torah) are concerned. Even though churches, and certain Messianic organisations, say they have a claim to a tithe of your increase God says the exact and precise opposite! (Please see our lecture on The Tithing Paper located under the Library header on this site.)

Please feel free to access the donation icon on the front page of this public site and send an email notifying us of your generosity and your identification so that you may be immediately admitted as a member of the International Messianic Community of Faith (IMCF).

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