December 2, 2023
- By Ed Powell
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"If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples."
Jesus prefaced the qualification for being His disciple with "IF." There were certain demands He placed on being His disciple. As a believer, God has placed many challenges before us that we may be all He wants us to be. Unfortunately, many are satisfied with having their sins forgiven and the promise of eternal life. Many have no yearning or desire to grow in grace and in knowledge of Him who made it all possible. Jesus said, "I am come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).
The abundant life is found in Christ. It is when we come to the end of our way and our will, and surrender both to His control and authority. Our striving and straining is exchanged for resting and trusting in Him. What blessed release comes when we find our frustrations replaced with a holy freedom as the Holy Spirit has access to the whole of our life.
But there is more! Here Jesus is saying, "If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples." Two things are brought to our attention. First, what does Jesus mean, "if you continue in my word"? He is emphasizing the imperative need to dig deep into His Word, find out what it says--its demands for being a follower of His and the measure of commitment and devotion God requires. It's like saying to a new employee, "If you want to be the president of the company, this is what is required of you."
But then, what does it mean to be "my disciples"? Look at another time Jesus used this important word "IF." He said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23). The challenge Jesus puts before us rests in the decision we make. We stand at the crossroads of a decision that will radically affect our life. To take the easy and passive way is to lose out on all God wants to do in our life. It forms, as it were, a barrier that restricts and hinders the Holy Spirit from working effectively in moving us from what we are to what God wants us to be. We then wander without purpose or commitment in the paths of our own making, being vulnerable to the deceiving ways of Satan.
Oswald Chambers says, "The call to discipleship comes as mysteriously as being born from above; once a man hears it, it profoundly alters everything. To hear the call of God or the call to discipleship necessitates education in understanding and discernment. Never be afraid of the thing that is vague, the biggest things in life are vague as far as expression goes, but they are realities."
Jesus puts His finger on what we place our greatest emphases--self. He says first of all, "let him deny himself." Why deny yourself? Because self is the seat of our pride, our ego, our self-independence, our self-importance and all the other vanities that boost self-control and center our focus on our gratification. It is imperative, if we are to be a disciple that Christ is first and foremost in our life and is enthroned in our hearts as the Lord of our life.
But there is more. He says, "take up your cross daily and follow me." What is "your cross" Jesus speaks of here? If anything, it is for us to "give up our right to ourselves" to His authority and control. It means we "lose our life." But what do we gain? His life! Can there be any greater exchange? God sets the standard. If we hesitate to follow, it is because we love someone else more than Christ--myself. Who is the focus of your life, Christ or self?
"IF...you continue in my word, then are you my disciples."
© 2007 by Ed Powell. Used by permission.
This page was reprinted by permission from: http://www.litmin.org/dare.php?date=2023-12-02
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