BACK TO BASICS, 02.01.19
I Pet. 4:12,13
Tree of Life (TLV) Translation of the Bible. Copyright © 2015 by The Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.
Study Topic will look at the primary foundations upon which the concept of “following Jesus/Yeshua” rests. He identified Himself as being “the” way, not simply a choice amongst other options – i.e., not just any “Way,” but “The” Way. When “Yeshua said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life! No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6), it was a statement of His divinity; it was a definitive and noteworthy declaration, not a mere comment, open for debate/discussion, or in need of proof. It was a definitive statement of Who He already was, not Who He was becoming. Notice, He said “I am” – not “I am learning to be,” or “I am becoming,” “the way, the truth, and the life.” He already was. Oh, yes, and He still IS!
His being the only channel of access to the Father means that we need only approach Father God through Yeshua; that is why we pray in His Name. We need to study Jesus/Yeshua, the very Christ, His life, how He lived it, what He taught His disciples; and model our behaviour after His actions and teachings, if, in fact, we want to go back to basics and walk as He walked, to be true disciples, active members of His Kingdom. His words were not passive; they were active, alive. “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus/Messiah Yeshua” (1 Tim.2:5). We need no one else. We do not pray to, or through anyone else, not Mary/Miriam, or any of the saints, regardless of their stature.
So where do we begin? How do we proceed?
“I have given you an example—you should do for each other what I have done for you. “Amen, amen I tell you, a servant isn’t greater than his master, and the one who is sent isn’t greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them!”” (John 13:15-17). Clear instructions: (1) Follow His example; (2) Keep your place (i.e., a servant is not greater than his Master); (3) KNOW what He teaches; (4) DO accordingly; (5) Whoever hangs onto his carnal self, loses out on real life – i.e., victorious living, freedom in Christ; whoever is willing to get rid of that selfish self, will gain freedom to live the victorious life in Christ.
Just knowing is insufficient; we must act on what we know. Too often the message we hear compromises this Truth. It seems rather to indicate that we just have to agree with God’s Word, and God’s Grace will take care of everything else, somehow relieving us of our responsibility in the process. Yeshua does not say that; in fact, He says quite the opposite.
“Then Yeshua said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to follow after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants 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 but forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:24-26). What is it about this set of passages that causes ministers of the gospel to overlook the essential ingredient of our participation? It is very clear: (1) Following Him requires self-denial – self-denial means giving up, surrendering, getting rid of self; carnal self gets in the way of following Him; (2) Take on whatever He calls us to (3) Follow Him means act on it – do as He did/as He instructs. “Now when all these things come upon you—the blessing and the curse that I have set before you—and you take them to heart in all the nations where Adonai your God has banished you, and you return to Adonai your God and listen to His voice according to all that I am commanding you today—you and your children—with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut. 30:1,2). Dr. David E. Jones, Ruach Life Ministries, in the youtube video teaching, “Acharei Mot – after death” (https://youtu.be/KUl6maXWnjk?list=PLFExJF2KBSH0ZEqxfIozQJ9gh7fJIADMz), emphasizes that we must know the commandments and DO them; “He showed us how to walk it, now go do it;” that we are held accountable for doing that which we know the Father has prescribed; that we are to live by His statutes and walk in His ways. Dr. David E. Jones does an excellent job of continually connecting the dots between Torah and New Testament; I highly recommend a review of his excellent teachings.
We are called to “bear a Cross” just as Jesus/Yeshua did. We are called to endure hardships. Every disciple in the New Testament had to suffer, endure, undergo multiple hardships and die horrible deaths. Peter taught: “You rejoice in this greatly, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials. These trials are so that the true metal of your faith (far more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire) may come to light in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Messiah Yeshua”(I Pet.1:6,7); and “Loved ones, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal taking place among you to test you—as though something strange were happening to you. Instead, rejoice insofar as you share in the sufferings of Messiah, so that at the revelation of His glory you may also rejoice and be glad” (I Pet. 4:12,13). He is preparing his people for the trials and tribulations, the stormy waters in which they would be tested; that it is to be expected, accepted, rather than avoided at all cost. The Shepherds today need to be preparing their sheep in likewise fashion, instead of preaching/teaching nice, warm, cushy feel-good messages that tickle the ears. Yes, God’s Grace gets us through; but God’s Grace does not replace our participation, nor prevent the undergoing of hardships.
We have been so deceived by multiple erroneous teachings that would have us believe that we are somehow exempt from hardships, that God’s people are taken aback when they occur. We have been deceived by messages that reduce God’s Grace to a provision/excuse for sinful lusts and disobedience, to a replacement of the need for repentance, walking in holiness/righteousness; and misleading believers by teaching that obedience to God’s Word is “works,” somehow legalistic and unnecessary. These false implications have created much confusion, resulting in lack of true discipleship. Legalism is attempting to earn salvation by doing; obedience is what we are commanded to be and do. Let us get back to basics, and follow God’s Word.
As disciples, we have a part to play. Let us delight in God’s Word, and walking in it, instead of attempting to escape from our responsibilities. Yeshua spells it out: we are called to lay down our lives for Him. Oh, I know, He did it all at the Cross. . …. .Yes, of course; HE did HIS part on the Cross; He is finished with what He came to do; and now we have to do our part. Our part is to live a lifestyle set apart/surrendered to the Father, by walking in the footsteps of the Son; to be ready to do whatever is required of us; to endure whatever hardships are part of that. “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives even in the face of death” (Rev. 12:11; notice, there are three components of overcoming). We have a part to play; we must participate; we must take action. By God’s GRACE we are given the choice, the privilege to participate; by God’s GRACE we are given the strength to lay down our lives; by God’s GRACE we can submit/surrender our flesh. Oh, that God’s people would come to realize the freedom in this, instead of viewing it as a burden, attempting to side-step the responsibility involved.
Let God’s people who give lip-service to following Yeshua/walking in the footsteps of Yeshua/Jesus, get back to basics: study The Word – eat it, chew it, digest it; internalize it; and apply it: live a lifestyle based on that Word, a lifestyle of holiness and righteousness unto the Lord; take responsibility to actually practice doing what He taught and lived, and respond with obedience to whatever His call. This is our responsibility; this is our part. Let us “deny self daily, take up our Cross and follow Him” (Lk.9:23).
© 2015, revised 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 by Verna Crowther. All rights reserved.
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