Wednesday, June 16, 2021

The Way of the Disciple - Part 5
















Sharing in the Sufferings of Christ

Joseph Herrin (09-19-2011)

The union of Christ and His body is a great mystery. Much has been written and preached regarding the oneness of Christ and those saints who comprise His body. One aspect of our identification with Christ that has been largely neglected, especially in this late hour at the end of the age, is the church becoming one with Yahshua in His suffering.

The apostles were not averse to speaking openly about this aspect of our union with Christ. They actually had much to say on the subject.

II Corinthians 1:5
For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.

Now, if Paul had said “the riches of Christ are ours in abundance,” or “the pleasures of Christ are ours in abundance,” we could be certain that this passage would be one of the most quoted in this hour of sensuality. Yet, that is not what the apostle declares. He says, “the SUFFERINGS of Christ are ours in abundance.”

Consider carefully what is being stated. Paul is not speaking of any and all suffering. He is speaking specifically of the sufferings of Christ. These are afflictions and sorrows and trials that are uniquely associated with the Son of God. Let us define these sufferings that Paul is talking about.

The sufferings of Christ are those sufferings which arise as the will of man comes into conflict with the revealed will of God. Christ ALWAYS chose to do the will of the Father. He testified that He did not come to please Himself. The will of God will not lead us to the same experiences we would choose for ourselves. Christ was not born in a mansion. Yahweh did not give His Son a great reputation among the people. Quite the contrary. The Jewish leaders accused Yahshua of being born illegitimately, of being a Samaritan (mixed race), of having a demon.

The Father did not choose for His Son to walk in a position of worldly power and prestige. Christ had no great ministry center. He had no wealth, or political influence. He came to His own, and His own received Him not. Yahweh chose for His Son to perform His ministry as a wanderer, a poor man who was homeless. The foxes had holes, and the birds of the air had nests, but the Son of man had nowhere to lay His head.

Yahshua is a pattern for the body of Christ. Whenever any man or woman accepts the invitation of Christ, when they begin to walk as His disciple, they will be brought to this form of suffering that is unique to Christ. They must act as if they hate their own soul in order to follow in Yahshua’s steps.

Luke 14:26
“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate... even his own life (psuche - soul), he cannot be My disciple.”

The apostle Paul most certainly has this form of suffering in mind when he declares that “the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance.” You cannot be Christ’s disciple without experiencing the suffering that arises as your own soul’s desires are denied that the will of the Father might be accomplished. The disparity between man’s desires and the Father’s are at times extreme.

Matthew 26:38-39
Then He said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me." And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will."

There are times when the Father reveals some trial ahead of us, and everything within our natural being recoils in horror, fear and loathing at what is before us. To be numbered among the overcomers in Christ we must not shrink back at such moments. We must press forward. There are great consequences riding upon our decisions, even as there were for the Son of God in that moment portrayed above.

Hebrews 10:32-39
But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly, by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. For you showed sympathy to the prisoners, and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay.  But My righteous one shall live by faith; And if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.

Here are described some of the sufferings of Christ. Those who come to Christ, and become partakers of His Spirit, are to surrender their lives to be led of the Spirit in all things. This surrender will result in conflict with the world, and the religious spirits in this fallen world system.

The Hebrew saints addressed in these words experienced “a great conflict of sufferings.” These were truly the sufferings of Christ. The Jewish religious leaders persecuted them, and Roman society also did the same. The disciples of Christ were subjected to public reproach. They were made spectacles before their neighbors. They had to accept scorn, shame, and many evil accusations. We read that some were imprisoned. Others had their property seized.

Do not be deceived in thinking such things could not happen to those who walk faithfully with Christ today. I can tell you truly, from my own experience, that such tribulations are as likely today as they were 2,000 years ago. This must be so, for Christ’s body has always been perfected through suffering. Let us remember again the words of Paul:

the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance...

This testimony occurs frequently in the Bible.

I Peter 4:12-16
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God.

Both Peter and Paul are speaking in harmony. Paul states that the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance. Peter shares that when we encounter the sufferings of Christ we should not act as if some strange thing were happening. What could he possibly mean, other than that being a partaker of Christ’s suffering is common to all disciples? Christ’s sufferings are to be expected, anticipated, and received with grace. These two apostles are speaking in perfect agreement with the Son of God Himself. Yahshua testified that no man could be His disciple apart from taking up his cross and following Him down an afflicted path. This testimony is found from the gospels to the book of Revelation.

Revelation 1:9
I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Yahshua, was on the island called Patmos, because of the word of God and the testimony of Yahshua.

The day is at hand when a remnant of God’s people will once again identify themselves as John did in these words. When we speak to a true brother or sister in Christ we will acknowledge one another as “a fellow partaker in the tribulation... and perseverance of Christ.” The troubles of Christ are appointed to us in abundance. Think it not strange. These things must be.

In former years the saints in Christ were more amenable to suffering with Christ. I do not mean to suggest that there has ever been more than a remnant who have embraced such things, but at least the church spoke openly about such matters, even if only a few had the attitude of Paul expressed in the following words.

Colossians 1:24
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body (which is the church) in filling up that which is lacking in Christ's afflictions.

In 1693 Thomas Shepherd wrote the first stanza to the hymn titled Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone?

Must Jesus bear the cross alone
And all the world go free?
No, there's a cross for ev'ryone,
And there's a cross for me.


I recently finished reading the wonderful biography of Amy Carmichael written by Elisabeth Elliot. The title of the book is A Chance to Die. Ms. Carmichael left a comfortable life in England in the late 1800s to live among the native people of India as a missionary. She understood something about the ways of God, and the call of the body of Christ to share in the sufferings of Christ. The following poem that she penned gives eloquent testimony to her understanding and her experience.

Hast Thou No Scar
Amy Carmichael

Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land;
I hear them hail thy bright, ascendant star.
Hast thou no scar?

Hast thou no wound?
Yet I was wounded by the archers; spent,
Leaned Me against a tree to die; and rent
By ravening beasts that compassed Me, I swooned.
Hast thou no wound?

No wound? No scar?
Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,
And pierced are the feet that follow Me.
But thine are whole; can he have followed far
Who hast no wound or scar?


What a question to ponder in this hour. “Can he have followed far who hast no wound or scar?” I have at times considered that I would not want to stand before Yahshua on the day when I must give an account of my life and not have any testimony of being a partaker of His sufferings. I would be ashamed to stand before the One who suffered so much for me, and to not have suffered anything for Him.

Consider the attitude of Peter, and the other apostles toward suffering.

Acts 5:40-41
After calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them to speak no more in the name of Yahshua, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.

Christ tells the saints that this attitude is right and proper.

Matthew 5:11-12
“Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

People of God, I am not a bold or courageous person. God chose one of the most timid, fearful, weak, and anxious of all men when He claimed me as His son. I have often been in fear and trembling and great anxiety as I have viewed the afflicted path before me. Christ has come to me at such times and given me great comfort and encouragement. Yahshua has held me to the course and preserved me through many perils.

For years, as I followed the leading of the Spirit of Christ, I did not know from one day to the next where my family’s provision would come from. I found such an existence to be exceedingly taxing. Yahweh did not choose this path to torment me. Rather, He desired to set me free from the giants of fear and unbelief. I would not have personally chosen to face these giants. I would have avoided them if I could, but I am grateful that my Father had my highest good in mind, and He would not relent despite my many pleas.

I have faced physical trials of health in my body, and among family members, and have been instructed by the Spirit to look to Him for healing. When I was diabetic, and later had a heart attack, the Spirit would not permit me to seek medical care. These things were for my chastening, and I had to bear up under them patiently while trusting my life to the hands of my heavenly Father.

As I have followed Christ wherever He would lead I have been brought into conflict with many other saints. I have been rejected by ministers, put out of churches, and have had my wife and son depart from me. Other ministers and Christians have vilified me, and used their ministry platforms to launch attacks against my character and my teachings. I have accepted poverty during many seasons of this walk, and have been in lack often. Twice I have been jailed. I have faced the threat of having all my possessions taken from me by force. In all these things I had to choose to yield my soul’s desires to whatever the Father should choose for me to experience.

It is evident that our Father often chooses for those who follow in Christ’s steps to suffer. We should “think it not strange.” As we respond to each new trial with grace, patience, forgiveness, and love we will find that Christ is formed more fully in us. This is Yahweh’s purpose. He wants us to share His image and likeness. We are matured through those things we suffer.

I am no glutton for suffering. Yet, the Spirit of Christ has shown me that none can come to maturity in Christ apart from accepting that path He has chosen for them. All must yield their lives to the direction of the Holy Spirit. We must not shrink back. We all have need of endurance so that after we have done the will of God we can receive that which is promised.

In Gethsemane the Father presented to His Son a bitter cup of suffering from which He was to drink. Christ’s soul had to be crushed as unto death in order for Him to accept that which His Father chose for Him. The Father is offering the same cup to His sons and daughters today. The apostles understood that it is an honor to be invited to drink from the same cup as Christ. They rejoiced that they were counted worthy to do so.

Will you accept the invitation to drink from Christ’s cup? Will you become a partaker in His sufferings?

Must Jesus bear the cross alone
And all the world go free?
No, there's a cross for ev'ryone,
And there's a cross for me.

Heart4God Website:
http://www.heart4god.ws    

Parables Blog: www.parablesblog.blogspot.com    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Monday, June 14, 2021

The Way of the Disciple - Part 4
















Suffering Saints
Joseph Herrin (09-16-2011)

Note: This post was written ten years ago. It speaks of some trials that I had at that time, but Yahweh has seen me through them. Amen.

There is a great deception that Satan has foisted upon multitudes of Christians who are eager to accept it. The foundation of this deception is the belief that God wants Christians to have happy, materially abundant, pleasurable lives free of poverty, poor health, sorrow, or persecution. If someone were to write a book to promote this false doctrine they might name it “Your Best Life Now.”




















Such a book would be bound to be a best seller, for it would proclaim the things the soul of man wants to hear. It would tell Christians that God wants them to be healthy, happy, and materially prosperous; to experience success and fulfillment of their soul’s deepest desires while in this world, with an expectation of entering into the reward and blessing of God when they die. We should not be surprised that ministers who proclaim this anti-cross message are widely embraced, that they sell millions of books, and speak in arenas that seat tens of thousands. The apostle Paul testified that the last days before the return of Christ would be precisely as we see them today.

II Timothy 4:3-5
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

Notice the highlighted words, “according to their own desires.” What do men and women desire? Do they not desire to live materially prosperous lives, to be comfortable and at ease? An honest review of the most popular Christian books and teachings today will reveal that the church has indeed “heaped up for themselves teachers” to tell them the things they want to hear.



















The image of the successful Christian has become so inculcated into the modern religious mind by hordes of teachers, preachers, books, and sermons that the majority are unable to any longer perceive that what is being proclaimed is the opposite of the example and message of Christ and His disciples.

















Emphasis on “YOUR”

Matthew 16:24-27
Then Yahshua said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.”

Consider what Christ is testifying here. When the Son of Man comes in His glory, He will reward every many according to his work. Just before stating this, Yahshua describes two very contrasting lifestyles. There is the man who denies his soul, refusing to live for personal satisfaction, who takes up his cross, and follows in the footsteps of Christ. This man will receive glory and honor and life when Christ appears.

Then there is another lifestyle presented. This is the man who seeks after the world and the things in it. Self-fulfillment, rather than self-denial, is the overriding motive of this man’s life. He seeks to gain those things his soul desires, whether they be material possessions, a comfortable life, many pleasures, or the approval and  applause of other men. This person may convince themself that a pursuit of their soul’s desires is the will of God, but when they stand before Christ they will find that they have forfeited the salvation of their soul.

A great many voices are proclaiming the message of the anti-cross today. I understand the appeal of the prosperity and self-fulfillment message. Nobody likes to suffer. If we were given the choice between spending a day enjoying ourselves, or a day suffering, and were promised that the reward at the end of the day would be the same for both, who in their right mind would choose suffering?

This is precisely where the deception comes in. The reward at the end of the day is NOT the same for the ones who choose to please themselves and the ones who embrace suffering in order to follow Christ.

Luke 13:23-30
And He said to them, "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able... And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last."

Have you ever seen a popular speaker today who gathered tens of thousands of followers by telling them that they are blessed to have less of the world’s goods than others, even to be considered poor, to have little to eat, to live a painful life of sorrow and tears, and to be hated by others? Such messages do not attract the materially covetous, or those who are prospering in this world system. Megachurches would be emptied overnight if those carnal saints who fill them were suddenly subjected to the message that Christ proclaimed.

Luke 6:20-26
And turning His gaze on His disciples, He began to say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and cast insults at you, and spurn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets. But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for in the same way their fathers used to treat the false prophets.”

The heaped up teachers of prosperity have no shortage of admirers who love the message of living a full and satisfied life. It has not occurred to most that this was not the message, or the example, of Christ and His disciples. The message of fulness and pleasure appeals to the soul, but it leads to destruction.

A great many Christians today are afraid to take a closer look at what Christ actually taught and exemplified in His life. It is imperative that they do so, however, for at the end of the day it will matter greatly which principle one lived their life by. Christ will ask, “Did you take up your cross and follow Me, or did you seek to save your natural life and satisfy the desires of your own soul?”

One path is afflicted, leads to life, and “few there be that find it.” The other is a broad way. It is crowded with pilgrims who assure one another that it is a good and pleasant way. Notwithstanding the repeated promises of the myriad of preachers along this great highway, its end is destruction and woe.

Jeremiah 5:31
The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority; and My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?

My goal in this post is to point out a very important consequence that arises from the mindset we have adopted. The man who has an expectation of being called to suffer will be much more accepting, and less likely to complain, when he encounters trials and difficulties. The man who believes the best path is one of blessing, satisfaction and comfort will find much to complain about, even finding fault with God, when his experiences fall short of his soul’s desires.

Last week while riding my motorcycle I was struck by an elderly lady in her 90s. This resulted in a serious injury to my left leg. I received a compound fracture, and my ankle was dislocated. Surgery was required and steel plates and screws were put in my left leg.

Although I have had much grace from God, there is some pain and discomfort associated with such an injury. I was in the hospital two days and then sent home. My daughter Kristin invited me to stay with her, as I was instructed to keep the leg elevated and not put any weight on it for two weeks. The evening my daughter brought me home it was a bit warm in the home, but we opened the windows, as it was evening, and it cooled off adequately.

The next day was Friday and my daughter had to go to work. She left the air conditioner on for me, but the house grew warmer and warmer throughout the day. We live in Georgia and even though it is September the temperature reached the low 90s. I was in a considerable amount of discomfort from my injury. In addition to this, I began getting hotter and was sweating lying in the bed. When my daughter came home she realized at once that the A.C. wasn’t working. She called her landlord, but was told it would be Monday before a repairman could be sent out.

The week-end continued hot, and in addition to the pain and heat I had some encounters through e-mail and other venues in which some Christians were acting, or speaking, in ways that tempted me to be short, or cross with them.

Have you ever been “hot and bothered?” In such times it is very easy for a person to speak or act in a manner unbecoming the nature and Spirit of Christ. Perhaps we might be tempted to complain against God, knowing that He could make our circumstances much easier and pleasant. When encountering some provocation from another human, we may be inclined to speak impatiently, without the gentleness, the self-control, longsuffering, humility and peace that Yahweh would have us to manifest.

During the three days at home following the accident when I did not have air conditioning, the Spirit led me to contemplate these things. I saw clearly that Yahweh was giving me an opportunity to be enlarged spiritually through my experiences of suffering. If I could remain patient, gentle, calm, thoughtful of others while refusing to complain, find fault, or bemoan my suffering, then I would make an advancement that could only be gained under such circumstances.

It helped tremendously that I already accepted the fact that suffering is part of the experience of all who would follow Christ. On the morning of the day I was injured I had just posted the writing titled “Why Does God Require Christians to Suffer?” I did not think it unusual that I should be experiencing some difficulty, or affliction. I understood that it is in the fire that the sons of God are purified. As they bear up patiently under all kinds of suffering they are transformed more and more into the image of Christ.

Monday the air conditioner repairman stopped by. It was nearly 8 P.M., and he had been long at work, but he came by. He had the problem fixed in about five minutes. Ants had gotten into the electrical connections and were keeping contacts from closing. This is a common problem in the south.

I had just written to a sister a day or two previously about a plague of insects she had been experiencing in her home. She related to me how she had lost her cool, and had acted rebelliously toward her husband, as one small incident after another piled up until she was at a breaking point. Her husband did not want to pay for a pest control company to come in, but she told him he had no choice, and she went and called a company to spray the house. Later, she lamented the fact that she had acted as she had.

I saw a parable in what she shared with me. There are many small agitations that come into our lives, just like the parade of insects into her home. These things can “bug” us. We see them as nuisances, and pests, and our thought is to see them gone so we can be at ease and comfortable again.

In truth, these things are divinely ordered experiences. Yahweh tests us to perfect us. A sister in Christ recently wrote to me and said, “there can be no TESTimony without a TEST.” I thought that was very clever, and very true. Sometimes we can handle a large event in our lives, such as my wreck on the motorcycle and the ensuing surgery. But how will we do when we get home and the air conditioner is not working? What if someone begins to speak or act toward us in a dishonorable way. Will we patiently bear with it, or will we in our discomfort blow a fuse?

In our tests we can go one of two ways. We can embrace the suffering and seek to grow spiritually, utilizing that grace which Christ so liberally offers us. Or we can respond in the flesh. We can be self-focused, and snap at others, or explode at circumstances, when they are not to our liking. This latter course will not bring any man to conformity to the image of Christ.

The air conditioning sure feels good this week. It was turned back on Monday night. Tuesday I began noticing a rash coming up on my injured leg. It itched. The next day it had spread. By Thursday it was spread far more and itched tremendously. I contacted the doctor and he advised me to take some Benadryl, suspecting that it is a reaction to some of the strong antibiotics they gave me in the hospital.

I smile as I think of this. We get rid of the ants and in come the fleas. We get rid of the fleas and in come the roaches. They are pests. They do “bug” us, but all things work together for good to those who love God and are the called, according to His purpose. Shall I murmur against God, or shall I grow more in the grace and character of Christ?

People of God, it is appointed unto Christ’s disciples to suffer many things. There is no suffering without purpose, and no affliction through which we cannot grow and be enlarged. Did the apostle really mean “everything” when he wrote the following:

Philippians 4:6
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

It is not wrong to ask God for relief from some distress, or trial, but we should always keep in mind that it has come to us from God’s hands with good intent. When we come to see suffering as a necessary part of our advancement into the image and likeness of God, we will not be so quick to see only evil in our distresses. We may even come to say with the Psalmist:

Psalms 119:71
It is good for me that I was afflicted...

I admire the apostle Paul’s attitude toward the suffering of his life. He learned to meet each new affliction with contentment.

II Corinthians 12:9-10
Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Only a person who understands the necessity and purpose of suffering could find contentment with it. May Yahweh have many sons and daughters in these last days who find this place of contentment.

Heart4God Website:
http://www.heart4god.ws    

Parables Blog: www.parablesblog.blogspot.com    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Friday, June 11, 2021

The Way of the Disciple - Part 3
















Why Does God Require Christians to Suffer?
Joseph Herrin (09-06-2011)

The inescapable message proclaimed by Christ and His apostles is that Yahweh has appointed unto men that they suffer many things in this life. This truth is affirmed through the most common image associated with Christianity; the cross. The cross is an instrument of suffering, leading to the death of the individual.

As has been demonstrated in the previous two posts, Christ gave forth only one form of invitation. He invited men and women to “Come, take up your cross, and follow Me.” For those living in that hour when Rome used crucifixion as a form of capital punishment, it was clearly understood that what Christ was announcing was a call to embrace suffering.

The question arises, “Why does Yahweh require all who would follow Christ to experience suffering? What is the reason behind it?” The answer is found as we define the salvation that Christ provides for mankind.

I think the most common concept of salvation today is that Christ came to deliver men from the suffering of hell. Many Christians equate salvation with an escape from eternal torment. To them, being saved is the equivalent of receiving a “Get-Out-Of-Hell-Free-Card.”















I do not deny that being delivered from the Lake of Fire, which is also called “The Second Death” (Revelation 20:14, 21:8), is a component of the salvation Christ has provided to mankind, but it does not come near to defining the true nature of salvation. Other aspects of the salvation of Christ are revealed in the following Scriptures.

I John 3:8-9
The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

I John 3:5-6
You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.

Luke 4:18-19
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord."

Christ came to set men free from their bondage to sin. In the last post we looked at the parable contained in the nation of Israel being brought forth from a life of slavery and harsh servitude in Egypt. This stands as a type and shadow of the bondage all men experience. All who are born of the first Adam enter this world as slaves to sin. Like Pharaoh, sin rules with an iron hand over the lives of mankind and refuses to let them go. Unless God had sent a Savior, all men would remain in bondage to sin today. Christ came to set the captives free.

In his epistle to Rome, the apostle Paul describes this bondage of the natural man to sin.

Romans 7:14-25
For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate... So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God! He has, through Yahshua Christ our Lord!

The salvation Christ has provided for men is primarily focused on delivering mankind from the sin’s rule over their lives. Prior to the appearing of Christ, no man had ever been able to break free from the shackles of sin. King David was described by Yahweh as “a man after My own heart,” but he sinned grievously, committing both adultery and murder. What a powerful hold this tyrant sin has over the lives of men! The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

When Yahweh sent Moses to lead His people out from bondage in Egypt, Moses repeatedly entreated Pharaoh to let the people of God go. Pharaoh adamantly refused. Even when Yahweh struck Egypt with many plagues, Pharaoh remained intractable. He would not permit God’s chosen people to depart from his rule. So too do we see sin refusing to release mankind from its steel grip. No amount of entreaty will persuade sin to free men born under this bondage.

It was only after the blood of the Passover lamb was placed on the doors of the homes of Yahweh’s people that they were released. There is a profound message to be understood in this. Yahweh had told Adam that if he transgressed against His will by eating of the fruit forbidden to him, he would surely die. The Scriptures tell us that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), and “the soul that sins must die” (Ezekiel 18:4). This is an inescapable law.

Pharaoh stands as a symbol of the power of sin over the lives of men. Men have entered into bondage because they have sold themselves to sin. Our forefather Adam sealed the fate of all of his descendants when he sinned in the Garden of Eden. We were all “in Adam” when he sinned, and consequently we were all made sinners, and all became subject to death.

Romans 5:12
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned...

Mankind, in Adam, became subject to the law of sin and death. Pharaoh stands as a type of the mastery of sin over mankind. Pharaoh would not let his captives go free. He demanded that they spend their lives in service to him, and that they die in his presence. Yahweh, however, made a way for mankind to be set free.

Death, being a consequence of sin, could not be denied. The fact remains that “the wages of sin is death.” Yet, Yahweh would permit the soul of one creature to serve as a substitution for the soul of another. In the Old Testament we see this in the substitutionary sacrifices that Moses delivered to the children of Israel. A bull, an ox, a sheep or goat, or a bird could be sacrificed that the sin of man might be passed over. These animals had to be slain. Their blood had to be poured out, for the Scriptures teach that “the soul is in the blood.” Yahweh would accept the soul of these animals in exchange for the souls of men and women. These animals died that man might live.

Understand now, why Israel could not be released from bondage in Egypt until after the blood of the Passover lamb had been shed and placed on their doorways. The only escape from the bondage of sin is through death. The Israelites could either die for their sins, or someone else could die in their place. The penalty of sin must be met.

Pharaoh released the people of God the night of that first Passover, for their lives had slipped out of his control. The Passover lamb had died for them, even as Christ has died for us. His death became our death. Having died with Christ, sin (Pharaoh) no longer has any control over us. The penalty of death had been paid. By becoming partakers of the resurrection life of Christ the people of God are freed from sin’s bondage. This is the salvation Christ purchased for mankind.

You may say, “This is all well and fine, and I agree with it, but why must I then suffer? If the power of sin has been broken over my life, why must I also carry a cross? Was not the cross of Christ sufficient?” These are excellent questions, and they deserve an answer.

We become one with Christ by faith as we believe in His atoning work. When He died, we died. When He rose again from the dead, we were raised to newness of life with Him (Romans 6). All of this is symbolized in the ordinance of baptism. When we are placed under the water, our union with Christ in His death is portrayed. When we are lifted back out of the water, our union with Christ in His resurrection is depicted. Even as a person being brought out of the water will take into his/her lungs a breath of air, so too do all who are in Christ receive into their beings the Holy Spirit that they might have the divine life of Christ inside of them.

In Christ, men and women become new creatures. There is life where there was formerly death. A spiritual being has been conceived, and from the moment that we receive the seed of Christ into our beings it begins to grow, mature, and advance in conformity to the image of the Son of God. Yahweh desires that this process continue until Christ be fully formed in us and we attain to the fulness of the stature that belongs to Yahshua (Ephesians 4:13).

At the same time that a new spiritual creature is growing and advancing in us, the flesh has to be stripped away. Our physical bodies remain with us, and they still remain under the curse of sin. This is obvious, for death continues to work in our natural bodies. They are all decaying and growing old. What Paul declared in Romans chapter 7 continues to hold true. “In my flesh dwells no good thing. Sin dwells in my flesh.”

It is given to those who are born again of the Spirit of Christ to do two things. They must mature spiritually, and they must put the flesh to death. Only by putting the flesh to death can a new creation arise and be manifested before the eyes of God and all creation. This process of the life of Christ arising to maturity within us, while at the same time our old Adamic life is being reduced to nothing, is summed up in the following statement of John the Baptist.

John 3:30
“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

The apostle Paul expresses this two-fold process in the following manner.

Galatians 5:24-25
Now those who belong to Christ Yahshua have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

Christians are called to live by, and walk in, the Spirit, and they must crucify the flesh. This is where the cross enters into the lives of those who are disciples of Christ.

It would be difficult for any Christian to determine for themselves the best way to accomplish this two-fold goal. We are often blinded to the presence of sin in our lives, and we cannot kill what we cannot perceive. Nor, do we know the best manner in which to promote the advancement of Christ’s life within our beings.

Suppose God would ask you at the beginning of your life in Christ to design a path through your coming days that would promote spiritual growth and lead to the death of the flesh. Do you have the wisdom and understanding to design such a course? Of course not. None of us do. This is why God never asks such a thing from His children. Yahweh alone knows what experiences and circumstances will provide the optimum environment for our growth as sons of God. Therefore, He requires that all who come to Christ be prepared to surrender their lives to be led of His Spirit wherever He would direct. The invitation of Christ is “Come, take up your cross, and follow Me.”

Yahweh sees with perfect sight those things in our life that need to be put to death, and He also understands how to best promote spiritual growth. As we yield our lives to be led of His Spirit we will find Him ordering our lives so that we encounter those circumstances, trials, and provocations that will expose the sin in our flesh, while providing opportunities for the spirit man to rise up and put the flesh to death.

If you perceive the goal of salvation, to deliver men from sin’s rule over their lives, then you can understand the necessity of God leading all Christians down an afflicted path. Although Christ has purchased this deliverance from sin’s bondage, it must yet be manifested in our lives. There is a difference between being offered a gift and making it your own possession. Christ has redeemed us from sin’s dominion, but we must arise and engage in spiritual warfare in order to put every enemy under our feet. He has promised us that no enemy will ever be able to stand against us, whether it be fear, or lust, or anger, or covetousness, or pride, or any other thing. However, it is required of us that we take the victory Christ has gained for us and apply it to our lives.

The apostle Paul explained the purpose of afflictions and suffering in the lives of the saints. He stated that Christians are constantly delivered over to experiences of death to the natural Adamic life that the life of Yahshua can be displayed in us.

II Corinthians 4:8-11
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Yahshua, so that the life of Yahshua also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Yahshua's sake, so that the life of Yahshua also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

If mankind is left to determine his own path through life, he will invariably choose a way other than that which God has determined for him. Most Christians choose an easy path, avoiding trials, suffering, loss, and persecution wherever possible. The entire body of teaching known as “the prosperity gospel” has arisen from the soul of man as it seeks comfort, abundance and pleasure above all else. Although such a doctrine is highly appealing to the soul of man, it will lead no one to maturity in Christ. The path that leads to life is afflicted, not one of uninterrupted comfort and blessing.

Matthew 7:13-14
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is afflicted that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

As I look back on the past 12 years of my life, after having yielded to follow Christ wherever He would lead, I observe an afflicted path. There is no better way to describe it. Yet, it has also been a path of tremendous grace. The Lord of life has walked with me the entire way. I am confident He will continue to do so. Like Paul, I want to finish my course with joy, knowing that there is a reward awaiting that is so far surpassing any of these “momentary, light afflictions” as to be beyond comparison.

People of God, if you do not accept the invitation of Christ to “Come, take up your cross, and follow Me,” you will never arrive at the glorious inheritance that awaits those who walk as overcomers. Can we not embrace momentary afflictions now to receive a far surpassing inheritance in Christ? As the apostle Peter put it, Yahweh has determined that we suffer “for a little while,” but the end He has in mind for His sons and daughters is glorious.

I Peter 1:6-7
In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Yahshua Christ...

I Peter 5:10
After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

The past twelve years now seem to have been but a moment. When all is said and done, I too will confess that I suffered only “for a little while.” Christ is calling many more of His sons and daughters to yield their lives to follow Him in this hour. Yahshua is a compassionate Shepherd. He knows our weaknesses, and He is of very tender mercies. He does not desire that any should fall short of the high calling set before them. He is inviting many at this hour to become His disciples. Will you heed the call?

Heart4God Website:
http://www.heart4god.ws    

Parables Blog: www.parablesblog.blogspot.com    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

The Way of the Disciple - Part 2
















Must a Christian be a Disciple?

Joseph Herrin (09-05-2011)

I believe the early apostles would be quite amazed to find that the teachings of Christ have been so altered in the centuries since the church was birthed that the terms Christian and disciple have been divorced from one another. A false mindset has been propagated throughout Christendom. People are told that Christ came to die for their sins and that they need to believe and confess their faith in His atoning work. Yet, any mention of committing to a new paradigm where Christ directs the course of one’s life is omitted, or left for a later time. If the call to discipleship is ever brought up, it is often presented as optional.

As the previous post declared, Christ only gave one invitation. He invited men and women to be His disciples by taking up THEIR cross and following Him. He presented no second option where a person could confess Him, but remain in a self-directed life. Indeed, Yahshua reproached people for acting hypocritically by calling Him “Lord” when they were not living to do His will and pleasure.

Luke 6:46
"Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?”

Yahshua did not actually repeat the word translated as “Lord” twice as it is recorded above. In the Greek language in which the earliest manuscripts of the New Testament exist, a word is repeated to denote emphasis. Repeating a word was the equivalent of putting an exclamation point after it, or putting it in bold type. Christ was saying, “Why do you call me ‘LORD!’ and do not do what I say?”

This question, posed by Christ, has at no time been more appropriately asked than at present. Multitudes of people have been introduced to Christian belief apart from any emphasis on the need to adopt Christ as the Head and Ruler of their life. These same ones accept Yahshua as Savior, eagerly embracing His atoning work on the cross of Calvary, but placing their lives wholly at Christ’s disposal to be lived as He would choose is omitted.

One of the plainest Biblical witnesses of Christ’s call to discipleship is found in His last words to His followers before He ascended into heaven. It is in that passage that is referred to as “The Great Commission.”

Matthew 28:18-20
And Yahshua came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

The Great Commission spoken by Yahshua was not to “go and make Christians,” nor to “make confessors.” The commission was to “make disciples.” We need not wrangle over what is implied in the use of the word “disciple,” for Christ clearly defined what He intended by the use of this word.

Matthew 10:24-25
“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master.”

Yahshua reveals that the goal of a disciple is “that he become like his teacher.” He also links the relationship between a disciple and his teacher to that of a servant (or slave) with his master. There is a very defined authority structure. A slave must obey his master. A slave lives to do the will and pleasure of the one to whom he belongs. Even as slaves existed in the Roman Empire, and were bought and became the property of their masters, so too has Christ purchased all those who come to Him for salvation.

I Corinthians 6:19-20
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price...

Acts 20:28
"Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.

II Peter 2:1
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them...

Revelation 5:9
And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.”

This truth of men being “purchased” by Christ is proclaimed extensively throughout the New Testament. Christians are not merely people joining a club, nor are they acolytes who embrace a particular form of belief or teaching. The entrance into the Kingdom of God is only through the blood of Christ. All who enter through His blood become the property of Christ, being bought with an exceedingly high price.

I Peter 1:18-19
Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

That all who receive salvation in Christ must become Yahshua’s servants is not unjust. Christ has taken men and women who were dead in their sins, and He has made them alive. This transfer from death unto life came at an exceptionally high price. Christ accepted death that He might give life to others. Is it not just that He would require all those who receive His life to surrender that life to be lived as He directs? After all, the life we have in Christ is not our own. Apart from receiving Christ’s life, we would be spiritually dead and separated from the kingdom of God. We would be lost and condemned in our trespasses and sin.

Consider how the church has cheapened this great gift that the Son of God has given to mankind. The church wants to be made alive in Christ, but they do not want to give their lives to Christ. They want salvation without sacrifice. The church wants the riches that are found only in Yahshua the Messiah, but they do not want to live the same life of devotion to the will and pleasure of the Father that He lived. The vast majority of Christians today wish to remain living the life of their own choosing, a self-focused pursuit of personal fulfillment and pleasure, while adding the benefits of Christ to their goody basket. Christ never offered salvation on these terms.

Matthew 16:25-26
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

Yahweh has given us many ways to visualize the salvation that He offers to mankind. The grandest similitude found anywhere in Scripture is in the epic history of Yahweh delivering Israel from bondage in Egypt. In this event we see both the atoning work of Christ in the blood of the Passover lamb placed on the doors of the homes of those dwelling in Goshen, and we also see the IMMEDIATE call to FOLLOW wherever God would lead.

Exodus 12:11
“Now you shall eat [the Passover meal] in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste - it is Yahweh’s Passover.”

The events of this first Passover Feast serve as a type and shadow of those things to be fulfilled in Christ.

Colossians 2:16-17
Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day - things which are a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.

I Corinthians 5:7
For Christ, our Passover, also has been sacrificed...

As the Israelites ate that first Passover meal 1,500 years prior to the birth of Christ, they were acting out in type the salvation that Yahweh would one day provide for all mankind. Yahweh would send forth His Son as the Passover Lamb to be sacrificed that man might be “passed over” by death. The Lamb of God was slain that mankind might live.

God instructed the Israelites to take a year old male lamb without spot or blemish, and to bring it into their homes. The lamb was to dwell with them for four days, and afterward it was to be slain and the blood put on the doorposts and lintel of the home. The death angel was to visit Egypt that same night. Wherever he saw the blood on the door he would pass over and no one inside would die. In every house where there was no blood, the firstborn males would die.

This aspect of salvation has been embraced by the church today. The church proclaims the death of Christ as a substitution for mankind. The Son of God died that men might live before God. Yet, this is not all that occurred on that first Passover. There was much more.

The Israelites were instructed to not only place the blood of the Passover lamb on their doorways, they were also commanded to eat the lamb and be ready to travel.

Exodus 12:8-11
“They shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire, both its head and its legs along with its entrails. And you shall not leave any of it over until morning, but whatever is left of it until morning, you shall burn with fire. Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste - it is Yahweh’s Passover.”

What do these things symbolize? The unleavened bread and bitter herbs, along with the Passover Lamb, were all types and shadows of Christ. The unleavened bread represents Christ’s sinless life. The bitter herbs symbolize that the life of Christ was very bitter. He was “a man of sorrows and well acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). In eating each of these things, the Israelites were acting out annually the coming salvation of God. Not only would Christ’s blood pay the penalty for the sin of mankind, but Christ would send forth His Spirit to produce life inside of every man, woman and child who became a partaker of His salvation. Eating the Passover meal is symbolic of receiving the life of Christ into our bodies.

A great error in the church today is in thinking that Christ suffered so that they will not have to suffer. That this is profound error is revealed repeatedly in Christ’s invitation to men and women to “take up YOUR CROSS and follow Me.” Christ had a cross to bear, and so too do all who would come to Him for salvation. As the Israelites ate the bitter herbs, they were giving testimony to this bitter aspect of our union with Christ. Even as we become partakers of Christ’s life, we also become partakers of His suffering.

II Corinthians 4:7-10
But we have this treasure [the life of Christ] in earthen vessels [our bodies], so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Yahshua, so that the life of Yahshua also may be manifested in our body.

Although Paul wrote these words in the context of the experience of those who are apostles, the Bible reveals elsewhere that this is the common experience of all who are members of the body of Christ.

I Peter 2:21
For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps...

The church today is very willing to accept the life of Christ inside them as they are born a second time of the Spirit of God, but they do not want to embrace the sufferings of Christ. However, apart from sharing in Yahshua’s suffering, no man can be perfected. It is those experiences that afflict our natural life that are the instruments the Father uses to bring forth a spiritual creation within.

I Peter 5:10
After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

We enter into these experiences of suffering in the same way that Yahshua did. We yield our lives to be directed by the Holy Spirit. This aspect of salvation is foreshadowed in Yahweh’s instructions to Moses to command the people to eat the Passover meal “with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand.” Those who become partakers of the life of Christ, who are delivered from death into life, are to immediately be ready to depart their old life and yield themselves to go wherever the Spirit of Christ would lead them, and to do whatever Yahweh would ask of them.

Mark 8:34
“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”

There is a tremendous consistency throughout the entire testimony of the Bible. Both Old and New Testaments reveal the two-fold aspect of salvation. Salvation is established through both faith and obedience. Not only must the Christian believe in the Son of God as the “Savior,” he must also surrender to follow Him as “Lord.”

Luke 2:11
For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Although it is common among Christians today to speak of the Son of God as their “Lord,” there are few who actually have embraced Yahshua as the Lord of their life. On that day when we must all give an account, Yahweh will judge all men with impartiality. Those who have surrendered their lives to live to do His will and pleasure will be afforded entrance into His kingdom. Those who have lived life at the direction of their own soul, while paying lip service to the lordship of Christ will be denied entrance into the kingdom.

Matthew 7:21
"Not everyone who says to Me, ‘LORD!,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.

This aspect of entering into our inheritance in Christ was also very plainly foreshadowed in the history and experiences of Israel. After partaking of the first Passover, the entire nation of Israel departed Egypt. At that time Yahweh did a remarkable thing. He gave them the pillar of fire and cloud to always dwell with them, and to serve as a guide in their travels. The pillar of fire and cloud stand as a type and shadow of the Holy Spirit whom Christ has sent forth as a guide for all those who have become partakers of His life.

Romans 8:14
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

Galatians 5:25
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Galatians 5:18
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Immediately after Yahshua was baptized in the Jordan River, the Spirit of God descended upon Him and remained. At once, the Spirit began to lead and direct every action of the Son of God.

Mark 1:10-12
Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; and a voice came out of the heavens: "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased." Immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness.

This immediacy of being led of the Spirit is brought forth in Yahweh’s command for the children of Israel to eat the Passover meal fully girded and ready to travel. Tragically, this aspect of life in Christ is absent from the proclamation of the gospel today. If we were to re-write the history of Israel according to the experience of a large segment of the church today, we would have them lounging at ease in their homes, eating the Passover Lamb without the inclusion of bitter herbs. They would then remain in Goshen, continuing to eat from the fleshpots of Egypt and pursuing intercourse in the ways of a fallen world system. The tragic result is that Christians remain in bondage to sin and selfish living, rather than attaining conformity to the image of Christ.

The desire of God for all who are in Christ Jesus/Yahshua the Messiah is that, when they become partakers of His life, they at once yield all their remaining days to be lived at His direction and pleasure. We must depart from life in Egypt, which stands as a symbol of the world, and embrace a new paradigm where we accept suffering and reproaches that we might be transformed into the same image as the Savior of mankind.

Hebrews 13:12-13
Therefore Yahshua also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach.

Understand then, that the invitation of Christ has never been anything less that discipleship. His invitation is “Come. Take up your cross, and follow Me.”

Heart4God Website:
http://www.heart4god.ws    

Parables Blog: www.parablesblog.blogspot.com    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Monday, June 7, 2021

The Way of the Disciple - Part 1


Joseph Herrin (09-01-2011)

Matthew 16:24
Then Yahshua said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”

The church today has a decidedly un-Biblical view of what Christ’s invitation is to mankind. This is revealed in the common question that one Christian asks of another, “When were you saved?” The church teaches that a person receives salvation by believing and confessing certain things about Jesus Christ/Yahshua the Messiah. A method of witnessing called “The Roman Road” is frequently employed in which key verses from Paul’s letter to the saints in Rome are quoted. For example:

Romans 10:9-10
If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

These words appear to sum up the matter of salvation in Christ pretty handily. Believe, and confess. Confession results in salvation! Case closed. The church is satisfied. Ministers assure the members of their congregations that if they have said the sinner’s prayer, confessed Christ (and been dunked in the church’s baptismal pool), they are saved and nothing more is required.

There is a great deal within the heart of man that would make this cheap view of salvation very appealing. Mankind does not like to suffer. The soul of man seeks out teachings that assure it of salvation with a minimum of inconvenience, suffering, and personal cost. The church, which has never been more sensual and fleshly than it is at this hour, has focused entirely upon a few verses that speak nothing of a surrendered life and suffering, while ignoring the myriad of passages that do.

Philippians 1:29
For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake...

I Peter 4:12-13
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.

There is a tendency of human nature to always seek out an easy path. God has provided a path to life, but it is not an easy one. The path begins with a narrow gate. It is the narrow gate that Paul has described in Romans 10:9-10. Christ is the entry point into salvation. You can find The Way to life through no other entrance.

John 10:7-9
So Yahshua said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.”

Again, the statement “he will be saved” sounds like a fait accompli, a complete and finished act. Yet, these words are not the entire testimony of Christ, or of the apostle Paul. There is much, much more. One enters by the gate, but then they must walk the path that leads to life. Salvation is not fully assured unless one does both.

Matthew 24:13
“But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.”

Hebrews 10:39
But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.

Is not salvation the promise of preserving our soul? If we would obtain this salvation, we must not only believe and confess Christ, but we must yield our lives wholly to follow Him wherever He would lead. Every one of the gospel writers included this truth in their testimonies of Christ.

Matthew 16:24
Then Yahshua said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”

Matthew 19:21
Yahshua said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."

Mark 8:34-35
And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it.”

Luke 9:23
And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”

John 10:27-28
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.”

John 12:26
"If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me...”

The majority of those in the church today do not want to know the whole counsel of God. They are content to receive myths and fables, and to have ministers who will tickle their ears and tell them the things they want to hear. The soul of man does not want to hear that they must lose their life to find life. It does not want to hear that there is a cross for every follower of Christ to bear. No, the soul of man wants to hear a message of no-cost salvation.

From the gospels at the beginning of the New Testament, to the book of Revelation at the end, the Holy Spirit inspired men to proclaim a costly salvation. Those who would be saved must “follow” Christ, not just confess Him. Speaking of the overcomers in Christ who stand with the Savior upon Mount Zion, John records:

Revelation 14:4
These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes.

The church has focused exclusively on Christ being the gate, while avoiding the fact that there is also a path to be trod. One cannot arrive at life unless they enter through the narrow gate, AND follow Christ down the afflicted path.

Matthew 7:13-14
“Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is afflicted that leads to life, and few are those who find it.”

Christ’s invitation to mankind is to believe on Him, AND to follow Him. The church today proclaims the first part, while leaving off the latter. Why? Because it is in surrendering one’s life to follow Christ that the cost is borne.

In America, and most of the Western world, it costs very little, or nothing at all, to confess faith in Christ. Although America is one of the most wicked nations to have ever existed, filled with depravity and violence, focused on the pursuit of pleasure and self-gratification, she has pretended to be a “Christian nation.” A person is not persecuted in America simply for professing to be a Christian anymore than they are persecuted for professing to be a Democrat, or a Republican. Yet, let a man or woman begin to be led of the Spirit in all that they do and they will find themselves greatly opposed. Nor will it be secular society, or government alone that opposes them. The chief persecution always arises from those religious followers of God who refuse themselves to take up their cross and follow Christ.

John 16:2-3
“They will make you outcasts from the synagogue (churches), but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me.”

People of God, the testimony of the Spirit and the Word is that there is more required to obtain salvation than to believe and confess things about Christ. If you would obtain to eternal life, you must surrender all and take up your cross and follow Christ.

Christ enumerated those things all disciples must count as loss in order to obtain life.

Luke 14:33
“So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.”

Luke 14:26-27
"If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”

Mark 10:29-30
Yahshua said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel's sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.”

If you commit to “follow” Christ, you will find that there is a great cost in doing so. Christ never sought to hide this cost from those who approached Him.

Luke 9:57-62
As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, "I will follow You wherever You go." And Yahshua said to him, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." And He said to another, "Follow Me." But he said, "Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father." But He said to him, "Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God."  Another also said, "I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home." But Yahshua said to him, "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."

Is it not evident in each of these encounters that the cost arose when the issue was following Christ? Let us be very practical and define what it is to follow Christ. How did the disciples of Christ follow Him when He was accomplishing His earthly ministry? Did they not hear His voice and do whatever He commanded them to do? Christian discipleship always begins with an initial invitation.

Matthew 4:18-22
Now as Yahshua was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.

Matthew 9:9
As Yahshua went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector's booth; and He said to him, "Follow Me!" And he got up and followed Him.

We find this pattern repeated over and over again. Christ appears to a man and invites him to follow Him. Each man was challenged to lay aside everything pertaining to their former life, a life that had been lived at the direction of their own soul, and to take Christ as their leader and guide. Rather than continuing with a self-directed life, they had to embrace a Christ-directed life. This pattern still holds true to this day.

Romans 8:14
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

Although Christ has ascended to the Father, He has not left us without guidance. Indeed, Yahshua testified that it was much better that He ascend to the Father, for then He could send forth the Spirit to indwell the hearts of His disciples. The Spirit of Christ within would guide each individual to know the specific will of God for their life.

John 16:7
“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.”

I Corinthians 2:10-12
The Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God...

Christ has sent His Spirit into the world to reveal the thoughts of God to mankind. Christ was led of the Spirit in all things. He stands as the pattern for everyone who would follow after Him. The Father showed the Son all things He desired for Him to do, and the Son was careful to do those things in the same way He saw the Father doing them.

John 5:19-20
Therefore Yahshua answered and was saying to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing...”

This is what it means to “follow Christ.” This is the invitation Christ has always given to men and women. He is not inviting you and I to merely believe and confess certain things about Him. He is inviting us to enter into a Spirit led life where we do nothing of our own initiative. He is entreating all who would be His disciples to walk as He walked.

Let us be very pointed now, and ask the question, “Am I truly following Christ, or am I falling short of the invitation of Christ?” What is the source of direction for your life? We previously read the words of Christ where He declared, “No one can be My disciple unless he hates... even his own life.” The Greek word rendered as “life” in our English translations is “psuche.” This word means “soul.” Christ is saying that a man must hate his own soul to walk as His disciple. What does this mean?

The soul is the seat of the mind, will and emotions. All that pertains to a person’s dreams, desires, and plans for their life reside in the soul. To be Christ’s disciple, a man or woman must lay aside their dreams, desires, and plans for their life and they must embrace the life God has chosen for them. In essence, they must hate their own soul. They must deny what they would choose for themselves, and embrace what the Father would choose for them.

John 4:34
Yahshua said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.”

John 6:38
“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”

A disciple must become like his Master. Seeing that Christ did not live to please Himself, neither must His disciples. Seeing that Yahshua was not directed by His own soul, neither must His disciples be directed by their own souls. ALL must surrender their life if at the end of the journey they would receive life eternal.

Matthew 16:25
“For whoever wishes to save his life (psuche - soul) will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”

Using the illustration Christ gave about salvation being a narrow gate to be entered, and an afflicted path to be walked, we have to conclude that the church for the most part has entered in through this narrow gate, but have not found the path that leads to life. Christ declared that there would be “few” who "find" the path. Implied in this word “find” is not only the act of discovering The Way that leads to life, but also walking it to the end.

Christ never gave any other invitation aside from the invitation to be His disciple. I have found that there are Christians today who think Christ gave two invitations. One was to be a disciple, and this required taking up the cross and living a life of complete surrender. The other invitation was to be a believer in Christ. People of God, this is great error. The folly of it will be seen on that day when all must give an account of their lives.

A profound parable occurred last year as I was traveling around the country. At two locations at which I spoke, both of which were in people’s homes, the hosts’ dog got sick and threw up on the floor. On both occasions this occurred at a moment in my presentation when I knew that what I was sharing was difficult, and some present were unable to receive the message. At the latter home, this occurred as the man who owned the house was arguing that it was not necessary to be a disciple to be saved. He suggested that one could be a believer, but not a disciple, while still being assured of salvation. At that moment his dog threw up on the carpet.

Randy, the brother I was traveling with, and I both looked at one another. We discerned the parable immediately. The beast nature that Adamic man is enslaved to struggles to receive the message of the cross. If the beast nature is ruling in a man’s life, then he will vomit back up the teaching of the cross. He is unable to receive it.

There is much which is offensive in the message of the cross. If you have truly understood Christ’s invitation, then you too will struggle to receive it. Does not Christ always link taking up the cross to His invitation to follow Him? Only by crucifying the flesh is any man or woman able to follow in His footsteps.

I Peter 2:21
For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps...

Is this the invitation you have heard and accepted? Or have you been told by man that you need only to believe in Christ and confess Him? At this hour Christ is inviting men and women to “follow” Him. Will you follow? Will you surrender your life to go wherever He leads, and to do whatever He asks of you? Yahshua has no lesser invitation. There is no other path that leads to life.

Heart4God Website:
http://www.heart4god.ws    

Parables Blog: www.parablesblog.blogspot.com    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Wilderness Survival for Christians - Part 6

Joseph Herrin (04-13-2010)











An Absence of Applause














The church calls Christ “Lord.” It is perhaps the most common appellation used in reference to both the Son and the Father. The church speaks of the cross, albeit usually in reference to the one that Yahshua bore. The church speaks the word “Faith” endlessly. Observing these things, you might think that someone who truly accepts Christ as Lord, surrendering to obey the leading of His Spirit in all things, and who embraces a walk of faith would receive much encouragement and support from other Christians who observe their life.

If this is your expectation, then I must warn you that you will be greatly disappointed.

That small remnant of the people of God who commit to following the Father wherever He leads; those few who find the narrow path to life and walk it, will experience trials, tests, and sorrows due to their surrender and obedience that makes the experiences of the carnal and lukewarm pale in comparison. During significant portions of their walk these disciples of Christ are waging war with Herculean effort. They are refusing to turn aside despite intense pressures from within and without.

One might expect other Christians to see their struggle and to encourage them on their way. They might anticipate that others would confess that they are doing right, even if those saying such things are unwilling to walk the same path. One might think that it would be obvious to the church that this suffering saint is experiencing all this hardship because of their commitment to follow Christ no matter the cost. But the reality is quite different.

Let me share with you an illustration from the Israelites’ wilderness experience that reveals the truth of this situation. It should be kept in mind that although 600,000 men, as well as women and children, went into this wilderness, these people are not to be confused with those who stand as types of the disciples of Christ. They are merely types of the church, the ekklesia. They were called out of the world, but few of them actually embraced this calling.

The majority of those who went into the wilderness regretted immediately having done so. Had they the opportunity they would have returned to Egypt. They were kept in the wilderness by the strong hand of the Father.

Among this large number of people we read of only a few who were intent on following the Lord. There was the smallest number who did not entertain thoughts of returning to the comforts of Egypt. Among these were Moses, Joshua and Caleb. The majority of the people did not have any desire to endure hardship, or to face trials and battles, even if the end result would have been an inheritance described as a land flowing with milk and honey.

The majority of Israelites in the wilderness represent the mass of Christians today. What was their response when they observed a small remnant among them who were willing to embrace hardship and difficulty? We can observe their attitude when, after approximately two years in the wilderness, Yahweh brought them to the border of the land of Canaan.

Yahweh instructed Moses to send in 12 men to spy out the land. These 12 spies spent 40 days looking over the land. They saw its abundance. They saw the bountiful fruit, the flowing streams, the fertile valleys and the forested mountains. The land was so fruitful that it took two men to carry a single cluster of grapes on a staff carried between their shoulders. Truly, Yahweh was setting before them an incredible inheritance.

Yet, these same men also observed a great many people living in walled cities. They observed giants, the descendants of the Anakim and Nephilim, dwelling in the land. They understood that it would be no cakewalk to go in and possess this land. Great courage would be required. Fierce battles would have to be fought. And enemies more numerous and mightier than themselves would have to be overcome.


























Yahweh had promised His people that He would fight for them. They had adequate proof of this already. The mightiest nation on earth had seen its entire military destroyed in the Red Sea as Yahweh fought for the Israelites. The Israelites had complained bitterly at this event. They did not relish facing an enemy. They had no stomach to fight. They manifested great unbelief in Yahweh’s presence with them, and His willingness to support them. They rejoiced AFTER they saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore, but we see their hearts revealed when they were brought once more to face an enemy stronger than themselves.

Numbers 13:27-33
Thus they told him, and said, "We went in to the land where you sent us; and it certainly does flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there. Amalek is living in the land of the Negev and the Hittites and the Jebusites and the Amorites are living in the hill country, and the Canaanites are living by the sea and by the side of the Jordan." Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, "We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we shall surely overcome it." But the men who had gone up with him said, "We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us." So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, "The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight."

People of God, do not think too hard of these Israelites who shrank back from the battles before them. The majority of Christians today are doing the same thing. There is a cross that all disciples must take up if they are to follow Christ. There are giants of fear, and unbelief to be slain. There are walled cities of lust, pride, and covetousness to be conquered. There are many enemies in the land that we must take possession of, and few Christians have the stomach to fight.

Yahshua said “The Kingdom of God is within you.” He also said, “The kingdom of God suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.” There is no other way to establish Yahweh’s kingdom in our lives than by fighting battles with an array of enemies that dwell in our hearts.

Consider for a moment the thoughts that arise in your own heart as you contemplate surrendering the leadership of your life to Yahweh. Does not fear leap up as a great giant as you consider the paths Yahweh might lead you down? Does it not cause your knees to grow weak to consider the complete surrender of the direction of your life to the Father? There is a reason that Christ uses the imagery of crucifixion to describe discipleship. Who could consider submitting to crucifixion and not be tempest tossed within their soul? Even Christ wrestled to the point that He sweat drops of blood in Gethsemane as He viewed the things before Him.

Joshua and Caleb were not insensible to the risk before them. They too must have known a quivering in their soul as they looked upon the Anakim dwelling in the land. But they knew it was Yahweh guiding them to these battles, and He had promised to fight for them. They subdued the turmoil in their soul and began to reckon on Yahweh’s presence. They were willing to cast all over into the care of Yahweh, considering Him to be faithful.

Both Joshua and Caleb counseled the people to go forward as Yahweh was directing them. They were willing to put their lives on the line. The rest of the congregation were not.

Did the congregation of God’s people confess that Joshua and Caleb were courageous? Did they admit that these two men were more dedicated to obeying Yahweh than they were? Did they encourage Joshua and Caleb to go in and fight these battles? No, we read there response in the following verse.

Numbers 14:10
But all the congregation said to stone them with stones.
























Men, women and children, in one accord, looked at these two men, both of them types and shadows of Christ’s disciples and the overcomers, and they wanted to stone them to death. This too is the response of the church today when it observes those few who are willing to follow the Lord wherever He leads. They will not praise you. They will despise you. They will vilify you. They will hurl many rocks of insult and reproach at you.

It took a wrestling of the soul for Caleb and Joshua to rule over their own fears, and to commit to a path they knew to be perilous. Yet they received no applause for their faith. Neither will you.

When you commit to follow the Father, to surrender to the leading of His Spirit, you will be led into experiences that others have not gone through, experiences which they do not even want to contemplate for themselves. The church will observe you being stripped of houses, lands, possessions, and encountering division in your closest family relationships. They will see that you have truly counted the cost of surrendering all your possessions and relations in order to follow Christ. And despite the fact that you arrived at such a surrender only after great inner wrestling that has taxed you to the utmost, they will not praise you. No, they will condemn you.

The wilderness is a type and shadow of the disciple’s cross. It is that daily struggle through difficult situations, following the Spirit wherever He leads. Did the people of God applaud Christ for His supreme sacrifice as He hung upon the cross? No! They hurled abuse and insults at Him. He was counted as a transgressor. They judged Him to be smitten and stricken of God.

So too will the majority in the church view your afflicted path and judge you to be suffering due to disobedience.

Discipleship is a lonely road. Though there be professing Christians in abundance, the path to life is found by only a few. Many are the called, but few are chosen.

There is an aspect of every disciple’s life where they must bear the cross alone. When Christ went to the cross His disciples were scattered. Only John was named as being present, along with Yahshua’s mother and some of the women. It is certain that those present watching His suffering did not understand what He was going through. His closest friends could only grieve as they watched Him suffer.

Christ was the Great Pioneer of this victorious wilderness journey. His example is a pattern for those disciples who would follow after Him. We read of His suffering that there was present in it the false judgments of His own people.

Isaiah 53:3-4
He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

I desire that you would have your heart prepared to anticipate similar things. Be at rest in your suffering. Do not add to your burden by seeking the applause of other Christians. Do not be distressed when no one understands the great spiritual battles you are fighting. Yahweh sees all things. The day will come when He will reward you openly.

As I was gaining an understanding of this aspect of the disciple’s walk I wrote two articles at the time that some may find helpful

A Spectacle Before Spectators
http://heart4god.ws/index_htm_files/A%20Spectacle%20Before%20Spectators.pdf

The Silence of the Lambs (A Chapter in the book The Road From Babylon To Zion)

Heart4God Website:
http://www.heart4god.ws    

Parables Blog: www.parablesblog.blogspot.com    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063