Jesus Defines Discipleship
Robert Wurtz II
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed; And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how do you say, You shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever keeps on sinning is the servant of sin. (John 8:31-34)
Our passage is speaking of two types of people: genuine disciples of Jesus Christ, and servants of Sin. We could say it this way: people who continue hearing and obeying Jesus Christ, and people who continue hearing and obeying Sin.
When Satan wants to influence the churches of God, he begins by introducing a concept into the world. From there he is confident that that concept will eventually effect the churches. The whole world already lies in wickedness, so his concern is not the world. He wants to destroy the Church and its influence in the world. He does this by using the world as a beach-head for invading the churches. Whereas the old time preachers warned the people against subjecting themselves to this world system through television and media; modern Christianity considers it legalism to put any such restraints on a Christians behavior. The result is a subtle reprogramming of the Christian mind with Satan’s propaganda. This is particularly true when we consider his introduction of the Anti-Spanking Movement (non-spanking advocacy or “NSA”).
Why Discipleship is Doomed to Failure From the Beginning
Genuine discipleship requires a person to come under the authority of Jesus Christ. He stated plainly, If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed; And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. This is a conditional statement. One is not a disciple because they call themselves one. A person is only a disciple if they continue in Christ’s word. “Then” They will know the truth and then the truth will make them free from Sin. However, there is a huge problem to overcome. People are progressively being raised without any real regard for authority.
In the late 1940s Dr. Benjamin Spock was one of the first agents of Satan to begin disseminating propaganda about the so-called “dangers” of spanking children when they are disobedient. At first, few people took him seriously. But this is Satan’s strategy. Put out an absurd claim and keep saying it until people begin to believe it. Put forward a host of false studies that support the lies, and because very few people investigate things themselves, they will believe the so-called “experts.” The “Dr.” designation makes him more believable to the masses than say a “police officer.” In other words, what the “Dr” claimed in books, magazines, and talk show programs, the police were seeing the opposite on the streets. Nevertheless, multitudes of people, like sheep to a slaughter, believed the “experts” and now we have a colossal mess on our hands.
Detective Robert R. Surgenor explained it this way, “Unfortunately, enough parents began to follow the advice of the peddlers of permissiveness to create a major problem, one that was immediately recognized by those involved in my lines of work, law enforcement. It was becoming apparent to police officers that more and more kids had no fear of authority. Spanking causes pain. That one element, pain, is the only element that instills the healthy fear factor in a child that stays with him as he grows up. That fear factor prevents that sixteen-year-old teenager from punching mom in the face when he gets angry. That fear factor keeps that teenager from mouthing off to the police officer when he gets a traffic ticket. Unfortunately, with less spanking in today’s society, we are seeing more and more kids who are not afraid of authority of any kind.”
The consequence of this propaganda for the churches is two fold:
1. The notion that “inflicting pain is mean” will now seek to redefine the nature of God. Because most Christians do not know the difference between Christianity and humanism, they will work to harmonize God’s justice and discipline to match Dr. Spock’s version of a good parent. Remember, humanism’s primary aim is relief of human suffering. The logic follows that a good parent will not inflict suffering on their child. Since God is the Father, we have to make God “Dr. Spock friendly.” However, as an old time preacher once pointed out; “God does not withhold the knife because it is going to hurt. He knows the difference between pain and injury.”
2. Many people in the west have no respect for authority whatsoever. This includes God. They lived a pattern of disobeying their parent or guardians without suffering any consequences. The result is a person who lives without any sense of repercussions for their disobedience of authority figures. They disobeyed their parents and guardians with impunity, and now as adults they disobey the police, their bosses at work, and are devoid of a sense that they must obey Christ.
Satan is a lot wiser than he has ever been given credit for. What is worse is that these things can be pointed out, and yet the thinking patterns, sown by the world, are still left in place. Nevertheless, it is man’s loss. Jesus Christ is not about to alter His word to conform to the propaganda of the Dr. Spocks of the world. Those who follow Spock will end up where he is going. It is a sad reality that we have to face. His teachings have systematically undermined peoples willingness and tendency to obey authority. It has short circuited the mind to offhandedly dismiss authority. Spock has greased the slide of disobedience and rebellion.
Learning to Listen and Obey
Jesus made a striking statement that is often taken out of context. In John 10:28, 29 He stated, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” The key identifier and qualifier here is that “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” Many wish to hurry on to the “never perish” part, but this passage is conditional. “My sheep hear me and follow me” says Jesus. By implication, if a person does not hear and follow — they are not His sheep.
We have a similar statement in John’s epistles, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin. ” (1 John 1:8) The most important word in this verse is “IF.” If we walk in the light we enjoy the benefits of this verse. If we do not walk in the light we do not have the benefits of this verse.
Getting people to understand that our non-conformity to these type verses has a severe consequence is almost like teaching them a foreign language. God does not bless unbelief. God does not bless sin. He has set the requirement for our consideration. If we move in Dr. Spock we will surely be doomed. His philosophy subtly suggests that we don’t have to obey anyone; even Christ. That is not the case. The world has lulled many professors of Christ into a slumber that disregards the severity of these things. As if obeying Christ is somehow optional. Nevertheless, when Jesus is parabolically explaining His return at the end of the age, He makes this statement, “But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.” (Luke 19:27) The Greek word for slay is much stronger than the KJV rendering and is only used once in the entire New Testament. It means to “slaughter them” or “cut them down.” (Vincent) One may have disobeyed their parents, teachers, guardians, bosses, supervisors, the police, etc. and suffered little or no consequence; but it will not be so with rejecting the authority of Christ. This is the plain consequence of Luke 19:27 as it visits Dr. Spocks theology.
You Have Not So Learned Christ
Becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ means that we come completely under His authority. In time, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess to God by compulsion; but right now we are afforded an opportunity to come under Christ’s authority to learn and obey Him willingly. This is why the Holy Spirit has come. He is Christ’s representative in us. In the words of G.W. North, “The Holy Spirit has come to teach us the habits of Heaven… how God would live on the earth if He were you.” We hear His voice and follow; we continue in His word; and we walk in the Light. This will result in a pattern of life that is completely at odds with the people of this present evil world. However, the whole process is completely dependent on our submission to His authority. We have to be sensitive to hear and do what He teaches us.
Paul describes how this plays out in Ephesians 4:1-25. He describes early in the chapter how the Gentiles (unsaved) “walk” or pattern their lives. He describes them as callous, blind, and living for worldly pleasures and pursuits. We then have verse 20-21 where Paul writes, “But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus.” Notice how the emphasis is on hearing Him and being taught by Him. This is not a priest or some other intermediary; this is direct instruction and direction from Jesus Christ. His leading is quite different than what we heard and were taught while we lived in Sin. What does Christ teach? That you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)