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CMF eZine


The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship.


Is That a Bible Verse?

“Is that a Bible verse?”

If I ever write the book ‘Colombo Evangelism’ (some of you will get it), one chapter will have the above title and will discuss what can be called ‘meme theology’.

We’ve all seen them. They have a cute short statement designed to express a Biblical truth. Some do contain truth, but you can’t really ascertain the original author’s intent. I read one like that yesterday morning about this time (5:15AM) while I was likewise engaged in a morning indoor 20 miles of cycle training. It was a post by a long time friend from back in my military days in Berlin. It said:

“God has a better plan for my life than I do.”

Now that is quite true! And as usual, I wanted to ask what it was supposed to mean, as the original author intended. Since it was a repost, I couldn’t do that. Did it speak of God’s provision for our lives in meeting all of our needs according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19), or was it intended to mean that God has a bigger ‘dream destiny’ for us than we do (Joel Osteen, et al.). After all, it seems there are more sermons/teachings out there these days about the latter than the former, if television evangelists and a lot of Christian bookstores are indicators.

Thankfully, when I asked my friend (Tony) “Is that a Bible verse?”, he talked about trusting in God for all of his temporal needs, although he suspected it wasn’t actually a Bible verse. That’s a good thing. At least I was able to find out what the meme meant to Tony.

So now instead of getting upset with all of these low theology memes, I think I’ll just ask a simple question and wait for return comments!

Feed My Sheep

Feed My Sheep

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep”.  John 21:15-17 (ESV)

We know with the story:

Seven of Jesus’ Disciples had returned to their previous occupation of fishing (for real fish instead of men), had fished all night and caught nothing. A man (Jesus) on the shore and called out to them and told them to toss their net on the right side of the boat instead of the left, which had not resulted in a single minnow, much less any fish. They obeyed and had such a haul they couldn’t get all the fish into their boat.

Once ashore, the man who had called out to them already had a good breakfast going and invited them to join him. It was then that they recognized their Lord. After a hearty breakfast Jesus took the opportunity to Peter three times, “Do you love me?” Naturally Peter answered in the affirmative all three times, and even might have wondered why Jesus asked so many times! We are not told. We are given Jesus’ direction to Peter after each answer:

“Feed my lambs.”

“Tend my sheep.”

“Feed my sheep.”

You might say that Jesus told Peter to become a sheep herder! He told him to take care of sheep, young ones and older ones. Has that ever happened to you? Read a story many times and suddenly something literally jumps out at you?

First of all Jesus said “Feed MY sheep. Those needing care and nurture belong to Christ, not to Peter, not a particular group of believers, but to Jesus himself! Pastors, Sunday school teachers, Bible study leaders, you are to care for JESUS property! That knowledge should give you great pause, should it not?

Secondly, Jesus told Peter to “Feed my SHEEP, tending them and nurturing them to maturity. That should tell us in no uncertain terms the purpose of the church, Christ’s church, not yours. The mission of the church is the care and feeding of the sheep of God. Should ‘goats’ be invited and welcome in our churches? By all means! The main reason the church exists however, is for the ‘sheep of God’, not the’ goats of the world’.

I listened to one popular megachurch pastor tell his congregation one Sunday morning “This is the last Sunday this church is about YOU!” No kidding. While most of today’s so called ‘pastors’ won’t go quite that far, they ‘manage’ their churches with the same mindset, offering all sorts of ‘worldly’ enticements to make following Jesus a really cool/hip thing to do. But listen to what Jesus said to his disciples near the very end of his earthly ministry:

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” (John 15:18)

The ‘world’ in Jesus’ time hated him and the world in our time will hate us when we stand for the true gospel that Christ came to save men from their sin, not to fulfill their wildest dreams.

Then we have the Apostle Paul who, by his own admission, preached nothing but Christ crucified for the sins of men:

“For we (gospel messengers) are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.” (2 Cor: 15-16)

In other words, the aroma of Christ is sweet to the ‘sheep of God’ but that same aroma of Christ smells like death and destruction to the ‘goats of the world’.

So why do we do what we do? We try to make Christ and his gospel smell sweet to the stony hearted unbeliever to get them through the doors and then tell them that Christ died for their self-fulfillment rather than for their sin. After all, we know that if we start talking about sin the ‘bait and switch’ will be on and oh so obvious to the goats you lured through the church doors. Unless God is doing a supernatural ‘heart work’, they’re walking and they ain’t coming back any time soon!

What’s the answer to this mess? Whether it’s a church setting or personal evangelism, it’s really quite simple.

1. Pray that God open hearts to hear the true gospel.

2. Preach the true gospel.

3. Leave the ‘saving’ to God.

Discipleship is Dynamic, Relational, and All of Grace

Discipleship is Dynamic, Relational, and All of Grace

Discipleship is Dynamic, Relational, and All of Grace

Discipleship in most Christian circles is treated as a separate part of the Christian Experience.  However, biblical discipleship is part of the salvation message and refers to the believer’s daily walk.

Biblical discipleship begins at the point of faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross and continues until he takes us home with Him in glory.  This may be expressed as, “We are being saved from the penalty of sin, and are now being saved from the power of sin and we will eventually be saved from the presence of sin.”

Jesus says that His disciples will live according to His Word,

“If you abide in my word, then you are truly My disciples” (John 8:31).

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in my and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Disciples are like sheep who are secure and daily follow Jesus as their Shepherd,

“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.  I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd” (John 10:14-16).

The following acrostic is a simple outline illustrating God’s GRACE in discipleship.

G — GOSPEL

The good news is that our salvation is all of grace by faith in Christ — not of any self-effort as expressed by the Apostle Paul,

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

He continues regarding our daily walk of grace (our sanctification),

“For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk I them”  (Ephesians 2:10).

The Apostle reminds us that this life is not a do-it-yourself-kit or a self-reformation program, but,

“it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure”  (Philippians 2:13).

The Christian life is all of God!  It is His grace from start to finish!

R — RELATIONSHIP

It is often taught that we believers are “saved to serve.”  In other words, God saved us because He somehow needs our help.  Obviously, in Genesis 2 and 3 we find that God served Adam and Eve rather than they serve Him.  He placed them in the Garden of Eden where all their needs were supplied.  In fact, God, desiring their fellowship, also walked with them in the cool of the day — relationship!

Jesus demonstrated for us His desire for relationship as He taught and interacted with His disciples and followers.    He told of and revealed His intimate relationship with His Father.

“Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?  The words that I say to you, I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works”  (John 14:10).

We Christians are precious to God in that He has chosen to have a close, intimate relationship with us by dwelling within us, even as God dwelt within Jesus.  He promised His disciples,

“But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He bears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.  He will glorify Me, for he will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.  All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you”  (John 16:13-14).

Christ graciously saved us for relationship with Himself!

A — ALIGNMENT

Freedom and independence are the hallmarks of Americans.  Jesus uses the metaphor of goats and sheep to illustrate independent and dependent people (Matthew 24:31-35).  Goats are very independent and can take care of themselves, but sheep are very dependent and need someone to care for them.

As Christians we are no longer to live as independent goats, but as sheep dependent upon our good Shepherd,

“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, My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one” (John 10:27-30).

God graciously saved us in order to bring us into alignment with Himself and His purposes!

C — CHRIST IS LIFE

The emphasis of our American upbringing, education, sports and recreation is focused on our being the very best we can be.  Often Christians are challenged that God deserves excellence in everything.  So, we try harder and harder to please God by attempting to improve the old Adamic nature.  This always proves to be fruitless, as the Apostle Paul cries out,

“Wretched man that I am!  Who will set me free from the body of this death?”

And then with a sigh of relief,

“Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord”  (Romans 7:24-25)!

Jesus Christ came to redeem us from sin and from the futility of trying to live up to the Law [the standard of life that He designed for mankind].  The Apostle Paul answers,

“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly… For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:6, 10).

The focus of the Christian life must always be upon the Lord Jesus Christ — and Him alone.  “Christ is our life” (Colossians 3:4).  The writer of Hebrews refers to the Christian life as a life of resting daily from our creative work as God did on the seventh day from His creative work.  But as God continues to actively keep the universe going, we are to rest upon Jesus Christ to keep our lives by His life.

“There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.  For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.  Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest”  (Hebrews 4:9-11).

God graciously dwells within us to live out His perfect life in, through and with our faithful participation with Him.

E — EXHALT CHRIST

Much of the emphasis of the church today is upon preaching and teaching the Scriptures, worship music, evangelism, programs for self development, service, addiction recovery and community outreach.  These are all good and commendable, but mostly mankind centered.

Jesus Christ is the Head of the Body, the church, both universally, and locally.  He should be revered and allowed to lead every aspect of one’s life and ministry, whether it be corporate worship, programs, boards, committees, and the like.

Jesus said; “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself” (John 12:32).

Lifting up Jesus wherever we are and whatever we are doing is a privilege — not a burden.

The Apostle Paul encourages us to preach and teach Christ always,

“We preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23-25).

IN CONCLUSION

Biblical discipleship begins at the point of faith in Christ and continues through life until Christ takes us home with Him to heaven.  The grace of discipleship is that Jesus Christ is the source and fulfillment of the disciple’s daily life— from beginning to end.  Truly it is ALL OF GRACE!

About the Author:

 

Pastor Bingham is the founder of CupBearers, and was for 17 years a missionary with Cadence International and has been the Pastor of Rocky Mountain Evangelical Free Church for 32 years.  He also served on the CMF Board of Directors for several years. 

Shepherding Grace Ministries
PO Box 1930
Englewood, CO 80150-1930
http://www.ShepherdingGrace.org


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Encouraging Men and Women in the United States Armed Forces, and their families, to love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

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