Jesus On Discipleship

That which we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly. It is dearness only which gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price on its goods.” Thomas Paine

There is a “dearness” to the Christian life that extends far beyond being merely “born again” or “Spirit-filled.” This, of course, is not to say that being “born again” isn’t important; rather, it is to say that there is much more to the Christian life than being “born again,” just as there is much more to natural life than being born.

Churches in America are, for the most part, concerned about one thing — filling Heaven with converts. But that is far less than what Jesus called us to do. In Matthew 28:18-20, He commissioned His disciples (and us) saying, All authority (all power of absolute rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age.

Consider the following regarding this passage:

  1. The “All” in “All authority” means “all, every, every manner of, and whole” (Strong’s #G3956). “Authority” speaks of “power, right, liberty, jurisdiction, and strength” (Strong’s #G1849). So, every single aspect of Jesus’ power, right, liberty, jurisdiction and strength empowers us to fulfill this call. Therefore, this commission cannot be truly accomplished by our might or by our power but by His Spirit (Zech 4:6).
  2. Jesus called us to make disciples, not merely converts. To “make disciples” means to “teach, instruct, and make pupils (students, scholars)” (Strong’s #G3100). It also means “to make disciples of one” (of One, namely Christ) who follow Christ alone by “following His precepts and instructions” (this includes both His written precepts and His present, prophetic directives). So, this is about much more than merely being a convert who has a ticket to Heaven.
  3. We are to make disciples of all nations, not just individuals.
  4. We are to make disciples for Him, who are baptized in His name and taught to obey Him — too often, we make cogs for our denominational machines, who are baptized in the name of our churches and are taught to heed our religious ideologies, rules, traditions, and party lines.
  5. “Baptizing” disciples means “to immerse, to submerge, to overwhelm, to sink, to wash, and to bathe” (Strong’s #G907). Of course, this has to do with water baptism, but water baptism speaks of much more than the mere act of going under water. It points to our death and burial when we go down into the water and then speaks of our resurrection when we come up out of the water (Rom 6; Col 2:12). It also speaks of being immersed and submerged in God, of being overwhelmed by Him, of sinking into Him, and of being washed and bathed in Him. This is the purpose and end of true discipleship. Anything less, isn’t discipleship.
  6. We cannot fulfill this mission without His abiding, manifest Presence. Only with Him will we have the courage, faith, and strength to complete this commission. As Moses said, “If Your presence does not go [with me], do not lead us up from here.” (Ex 33:15 AMP) Everything Jesus said and did was out of dependence upon our Father and the Spirit. How much more do we need to dependent on Him for all we say and do?

What did Jesus say regarding the paradigm, protocol and lifestyle of a true disciple? How did He define the cost? Are we willing to reassess every square inch of what we think it means to truly follow the Lord? Do we have the courage to measure our conceptions of Christianity against His?

“If we took what Jesus Himself gave us as a definition of what a disciple is, we may look around and wonder if we know any disciples at all… in my opinion, maybe ten percent of all Christians have really become disciples and there’s a whole lot more to it than sitting in church meetings, getting degrees, etc. We need to understand what Jesus said defines His disciples… One of the warnings that Jesus gave was ‘Woe to those who nurse babes’ and I interpret that as ‘Woe to those who keep their people in immaturity’… it’s critical that we become disciples according to the Lord’s definition.” Rick Joyner

Before we can become authentic disciples, we must first see our need to grow up and then must be willing to fully surrender our lives to the narrow way. True disciples are those who know their true condition, have considered the cost of following Him (Lk 14:28-32), and are ready and willing to endure the processing of the Lord to attain the kind and quality of Life He gave them life and breath to enjoy.

The Narrow Way

Jesus is the Door (Jn 10:7, 9). He is the Way (Jn 14:6). It is through Him that we are “born again” and then enter from one level of spiritual development to the next, until we become just like Him, until we “…[…arrive] at really mature manhood (the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ’s own perfection), the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ and the completeness found in Him.” (Eph 4:13 AMP)

There is a place of absolute surrender to Christ’s will that is known by very few. But He is calling us to this place, a place far beyond all that religion offers. The Way of the disciple is a Person — His name is Jesus — and the Way He calls us to follow is straight and narrow, “contracted by pressure” (Matt 7:13-14).

Concerning this narrow way, Madam Guyon once wrote…

“How very narrow is the gate that leads to a life in God! How little one must be to pass through it, it being nothing else but death to self! But when we have passed through it, what enlargement do we find! David said, ‘He brought me forth also into a large place’ (Ps 18:19). And it was through humiliation and abasement that he was brought there.”

This is the way of the true disciple. Of course, there are many other “ways,” besides the Lord’s, that seem good, righteous and wise to us, but they all lead to death (Prov 16:25). The narrow way is the only way of Life that leads to Life.

Friends, we’ve substituted the narrow gate and the narrow path with a broad gate and a broad path by perverting the way of the Cross into something that is convenient, common, courteous, and comfortable. But the way of Christ, which is the way of the Cross unto true Life, is anything but easy and is in direct opposition to the flesh.

Discipleship, like salt, is good, “…but if salt has lost its strength and has become saltless (insipid, flat), how shall its saltness be restored? It is fit neither for the land nor for the manure heap; men throw it away. He who has ears to hear, let him listen and consider and comprehend by hearing!” (Lk 14:34-35 AMP) Western Christianities’ version of discipleship “is fit neither for the land nor for the manure heap” and should be thrown away and replaced with the genuine article Jesus provided. However, only those who have “ears to hear” can listen to, consider and comprehend the weight and reality of His words.

So, then, what did Jesus say regarding discipleship?

#1 Love God with ALL Your Being

Jesus said, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind…” (Lk 10:27 AMP)

This is the first and greatest commandment of all (Matt 22:38), where He is our singular focus, the center and circumference of our lives, our magnificent obsession. Of course, anyone can say they love Him with all their heart, soul, strength and mind, but few actually do. Why? Because those who truly love Him, put Him before all things, including their personal property, their family, and their friends, so that when He calls them to draw near or to engage in Kingdom work, they answer without excuses or hesitation (Matt 8:21-22; Lk 9:59-62; 14:16-20).

Years ago, while at lunch with my mother and a friend, we were talking about this very topic of all-out commitment to the Lord. One of the things I shared was that Jesus told us that if we desire to follow Him, we must hate our father and mother and spouses and children and siblings in comparison to our love for Him.

Soon, thereafter, an older woman at a neighboring table interrupted our conversation to tell me Jesus never said that. So, I showed her Luke 14:26 (AMP), where Jesus says…

“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his [own] father and mother [in the sense of indifference to or relative disregard for them in comparison with his attitude toward God] and [likewise] his wife and children and brothers and sisters—[yes] and even his own life also—he cannot be My disciple.”

The woman was appalled!!! And most Christians I’ve ever shared this verse with have been equally appalled, shocked that this kind of verse is even in the Bible. These kinds of verses make most “believers” very uncomfortable, which explains, in large part, why true disciples are so rare. This verse — as well as other similar verses contained throughout this article — have been all but deleted from Christianity in the West, but the Lord has never changed. To love the Lord with all our being is to be more devoted to following Him than anyone else, even our closest family and friends.

Jesus Himself modeled this quality of devotion when He said, “…Who is My mother, and who are My brothers?… whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother!” (Matt 12:48, 50 AMP)

Nothing can come before Him! As Jesus said, “Any of you who does not forsake (renounce, surrender claim to, give up, say good-bye to) all that he has cannot be My disciple.” (Lk 14:33 AMP)

“What does it mean to forsake all that we have? It means we must forsake all that we have. We do not count anything as our own, because we have been bought with a price, and we are not even our own. Anything we possess, we are a steward of. We treat it as if it is the Lord’s, because it is. This means giving it and using it for His purposes whenever He demands it.” Rick Joyner

We can say we love Him above all others, but do we obey Him? (Matt 7:21; Jn 15:14; see Gen 22:1-12) Talk is cheap! We can call Him “Lord” — claiming we are fully surrendered to His headship — but do we heed Him? (Matt 25:11-12; Lk 6:46-49) We can even prophesy, cast out demons, and perform many supernatural works in His name, but if He isn’t the absolute love of our life, none of our good, religious works matter (Matt 7:22-23).

“When Jesus called His disciples, it was for total commitment. They had to be willing to leave everything to follow Him, and so do we. If He is not the Lord of all, then He is not our Lord at all.” Rick Joyner

#2 Love People As He Loves You

Jesus said, “…Love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another. By this shall all [men] know that you are My disciples, if you love one another [if you keep on showing love among yourselves].” (Jn 13:34-35 AMP)

1 Cor 13:4-8 Wuest
1 Cor 13:4-8 Wuest Trans. (in green)

And what does real love look like? Well, First Corinthians 13:4-8 (AMP) tells us Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right andtruth prevail. Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]…”

In The Message, First Corinthians 13:3-8 says, “…No matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always ‘me first,’ doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end. Love never dies…”

This same passage, in the J.B. Phillips Translations, says, “…Love… is slow to lose patience—it looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive: it is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance. Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage. It is not touchy. It does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails. Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.”

To love as Jesus loves is not for the faint of heart. Those who think they’re strong, who think they have it all together, will learn, quickly, that they cannot love this way on their own steam. Only those who love Him more than themselves and everyone and everything around them — thereby keeping the main thing the main thing — will lay down their lives to love this way, His way. But it requires us to… die!

#3 Die

Matt 16:24-26 Wuest
Matt 16:24-26 Wuest Trans. (in yellow)

Jesus said, “If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also]. For whoever is bent on saving his [temporal] life [his comfort and security here] shall lose it [eternal life]; and whoever loses his life [his comfort and security here] for My sake shall find it [life everlasting]. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life [his blessed life in the kingdom of God]? Or what would a man give as an exchange for his [blessed] life [in the kingdom of God]?” (Matt 16:24-26 AMP)

What a standard! Can you imagine this message being preached today? How many do you think would surrender their lives at the alter after this kind of sermon? Contrary to most preachers today, Jesus didn’t water down the message when it choked His audiences. Those who wanted to be His disciple, had to understand the gravity attached to truly following Him.

The cross was a tool of execution, as our electric chair is today. Those who wish to save their lives won’t sit down in an electric chair, but, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said…

“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”

How do we die? By taking up our cross. But how do we take up our cross? By denying ourselves, disregarding ourselves, losing sight of ourselves, forgetting ourselves and our own interests, and by cleaving steadfastly to Him and conforming wholly to His example “in living and, if need be, in dying, also].” 

Dying to Self1
Here’s a poem on the subject of dying to self that my mom introduced to me when I was a kid. I’ve never forgotten it.

In another passage, Jesus unpacked this dying process further when He said, “…Many who [now] are first will be last [then], and many who [now] are last will be first [then]… He who is greatest among you shall be your servant… he who is least and lowliest among you all – he is the one who is truly great… everyone who exalts himself will be humbled (ranked below others who are honored or rewarded), and he who humbles himself (keeps a modest opinion of himself and behaves accordingly) will be exalted (elevated in rank).” (Matt 19:30; 23:11; Lk 9:48; 14:11 – AMP)

In other words, if we do our job of humbling ourselves, God will do His part of exalting us. However, if we do His job, He will do ours. If we refuse to fall on the Rock to be broken, He will fall on us and grind us to powder (Matt 21:44).

In Matthew 18:3-4 (AMP), Jesus says, “…Truly I say to you, unless you repent (change, turn about) and become like little children [trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving], you can never enter the kingdom of heaven [at all]. Whoever will humble himself therefore and become like this little child [trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving] is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

The Kingdom of God belongs to those who are childlike (Lk 18:16-17). (Note: Child-likeness is not to be confused with child-ishness.) Children love purely, forgive easily, have no concept of death, and are fully dependant on their parents for all their needs and wants. In the eyes of the world, dependence is viewed as a weakness, but Heaven sees things very differently. Those who are wholly dependent on the Lord — like a nursing babe in the arms of its mother — are considered the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. But we must reverse our present trend of thought and esteem ourselves as small, because we are; then and only then will we think truly.

#4 Embrace Persecution

The following three passages unpack this powerful reality for all true disciples. Read them carefully, prayerfully and thoughtfully.

Matthew 5:10-12 (AMP) says, “Blessed and happy and enviably fortunate and spiritually prosperous (in the state in which the born-again child of God enjoys and finds satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of his outward conditions) are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake (for being and doing right), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven! Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous – with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of your outward conditions) are you when people revile you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things against you falsely on My account. Be glad and supremely joyful, for your reward in heaven is great (strong and intense).”

In The Message, this same passage says, “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.”

“True discipleship will lead to being like Christ and doing the works that He did. It will also lead to persecution just as He was persecuted.” Rick Joyner

In Matthew 10:21-25 (AMP), Jesus shares additional consequences of truly following Him when He says, Brother will betray brother to death, and the father his child; and children will rise up and rebel against their parents and cause them to be put death. And you will be hated by everyone because of [your association with] My name, but it is the one who has patiently persevered and endured to the end who will be saved. When they persecute you in one city [because of your faith in Me], flee to the next… A disciple is not above his teacher, nor is a bond-servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the bond-servant like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul (Satan), how much more [will they speak evil of] the members of his household.”

In The Message, this passage says that “When people realize it is the living God you are presenting and not some idol that makes them feel good, they are going to turn on you, even people in your own family. There is a great irony here: proclaiming so much love, experiencing so much hate! But don’t quit. Don’t cave in. It is all well worth it in the end… A laborer doesn’t make more money than his boss. Be content—pleased, even—when you, my students, my harvest hands, get the same treatment I get. If they call me, the Master, ‘Dungface,’ what can the workers expect?”

In Luke 6:22-23 and 26 (AMP), Jesus says, “Blessed (happy – with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, apart from your outward condition – and to be envied) are you when people despise (hate) you, and when they exclude and excommunicate you [as disreputable] and revile and denounce you and defame and cast out and spurn your name as evil (wicked) on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice and be glad at such a time and exult and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is rich and great and strong and intense and abundant in heaven; for even so their forefathers treated the prophets…. Woe to… you when everyone speaks fairly and handsomely of you and praises you, for even so their forefathers did to the false prophets.”

Luke 6:22-23 and 26 Wuest
Lk 6:22-23, 26 Wuest Trans. (in yellow)

In The Message, this passage says, “Count yourself blessed every time someone cuts you down or throws you out, every time someone smears or blackens your name to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and that that person is uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—skip like a lamb, if you like!—for even though they don’t like it, I do…and all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company; my preachers and witnesses have always been treated like this… There’s trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests are not truth contests—look how many scoundrel preachers were approved by your ancestors! Your task is to be true, not popular.”

Jesus had “nowhere to lay His head” (Matt 8:20; Lk 9:57-58). He was hated, excluded, excommunicated, reviled, denounced, defamed, cast out, and spurned as wicked and even demon possessed (Mk 3:22-30; Jn 7:20; 8:48; 10:20). Many attempts were made to murder Him before He was finally arrest and put to death by the religious leaders and their followers. Are you willing to have nowhere to lay your head, to be an outcast who is at home in Christ alone?

Today, in America, the Church isn’t ready for real persecution. Instead, we are being told to just get people “saved” and to be ready for an any-minute pre-tribulation rapture to heaven. When we are “born again” we are told “Come to Jesus and He will save you from your trouble.” Yet, Jesus’ message was, “Come and die!”

Christians in the first century were always ready for persecution and possible death as a consequence of living for Christ. They didn’t subscribe to the American gospel that promises happiness, prosperity, and an escape from harm. In fact, in Acts 5:41 (AMP), after Peter and John were flogged [skinned, beaten, flayed, scourged, and thrashed with great violence (Strong’s #G1194)] for speaking in the name of Jesus, “…they left the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy [dignified by indignity] to suffer shame for [the sake of] His name.” Then, later, in Acts 16:25, Paul and Silas responded in a similar fashion to similar suffering; after they were dragged before the authorities, falsely accused, stripped naked, beaten with rods many times, imprisoned in a dungeon, and had their feet fastened in stocks — because Paul cast a demon of divination out of a woman, which upset those who profited from her “gift” — they prayed and sang hymns of praise to God in the prison for all to hear.

Ignatius of Antioch, who was a pupil of the apostle John, became a martyr when he was fed to wild beasts at the hands of the Romans. It was a fate he thought to be inevitable, and so much so that he defiantly taunted it in his own writings…

“May I enjoy the wild beasts that are prepared for me; and I pray that they may be found eager to rush upon me, which also I will entice to devour me… If they be unwilling to assail me, I will compel them to do so… Now I begin to be a disciple, and have no desire after anything visible or invisible, that I may attain to Jesus Christ. Let fire and the cross; let the crowds of wild beasts; let breakings, tearings, and separations of bones; let cutting off of members, let bruising two pieces of the whole body; and let the very torment of the devil come upon me; only let me attain to Jesus Christ.”

As Tertullian, the Christian author who lived in North Africa in the third century, once stated, “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church” and “the Christian, even when he is condemned, gives thanks.”

Ready to “begin to be a disciple”?

#5 Stay Focused

“No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back [to the things behind] is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Lk 9:62 AMP)

Paul expressed this kind of singular focus when he said, “…One thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.” (Phil 3:13-14 AMP)

In The Message, it says, “…I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.”

Our gaze must be on this “one thing” (see Ps 27:4), on Jesus alone (see Lk 10:38-42); anything less makes us “unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything” we think, feel, and decide (James 1:8 AMP).

While everyone and everything around us is screaming and nagging for our attention and affection, Jesus is saying “Only aim at and strive for and seek His kingdom, and all these things shall be supplied to you also.” (Lk 12:31 AMP)

#6 Conform Wholly to Jesus

A disciple is not above his teacher, nor is a servant or slave above his master. It is sufficient for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant or slave like his master. If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub [master of the dwelling], how much more will they speak evil of those of His household… If anyone serves Me, he must continue to follow Me [to cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying]…” (Matt 10:25; Jn 12:26 – AMP).

In The Message, John 12:26 says, “If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me. Then you’ll be where I am…”

Christlikeness is the principal fruit of authentic discipleship, demonstrated by the fruit of the Spirit in one’s life. If His likeness is not being continually developed within our lives, so that it is increasingly experienced by others through our words and actions, we need to check our foundation in the Lord. True disciples wake up each morning with the devotion to learn from their Master, to know Him better, and to be more and more like Him, doing the works He did.

“I am convinced that religion is the father of genetic cloning. Religion invented cloning long before the world ever thought of it. Religion has a way of sucking the most powerful people on the planet into a spiritual look-a-like contest and calling it discipleship. True discipleship is meant to empower people to be transformed into the image of their Creator, but religion redefines discipleship, conforming people into replicas of their leaders. Religion takes God’s mighty men and makes them artifacts in a museum… The goal of true discipleship isn’t that we know the bible but that we experience truth and become like the One who teaches us – Jesus Christ.” From “Developing a Supernatural Lifestyle” by Kris Vallotton

“The goal of biblical discipleship is to lead people to Jesus, not to ourselves. For too long the church has been promised the Lord, but all they ever get is us! Those who are making true disciples are making them into disciples of Christ Jesus Himself, connecting them to Him. If their job is done right, they themselves will become unnecessary because the disciples have their own relationship to Him. We may stay connected with those who have so matured but only as brethren and co-laborers for the sake of His gospel. The ultimate goal of those who are making true disciples is to work themselves out of a job—to lead those they are teaching to a place where they no longer need them because they are growing up in all things into Him.” Rick Joyner

“The Lord desires a people who will be conformed to the image of His Son, that they may demonstrate the preeminence of Christ in all things.” Chip Brogden

He seeks those who will cast off all distractions and excuses and press on into becoming more like Him, in thought, word and deed, on this side of Heaven on Earth, “now in this time”, “in this world” (Jn 12:14; 20:21; 1 Jn. 4:17; Mk 10:29-30; Lk. 18:29-30).

Note: If you want to dig further into this topic of Christlikeness, read one of my previous blogs “The Simplicity of Christ-likeness“.

Of course, as you imagine, anyone who chooses this “narrow way” won’t be very popular…

“People talk about imitating Christ, and imitate Him in the little trifling formal things, such as washing the feet, saying His prayer, and so on; but if anyone attempts the real imitation of Him, there are no bounds to the outcry with which the presumption of that person is condemned.” Florence Nightingale

Conclusion

Clearly, Jesus’ brand of discipleship is nothing like ours. As always, there are some who will say, “Oh, but come on, it doesn’t take all this!” And yet, what are we to do with Jesus’ words on the matter? Should we scrap His Word for our comfort?

Those who are truly apprehended for the High Calling are violent — they pursue Him and His Kingdom forcefully “…with most ardent zeal and intense exertion.” (Matt 11:12 AMP) As Jesus said, Strive to enter by the narrow door [force yourselves through it], for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able.” (Lk 13:24 AMP)

Then, in Hebrews 4:9 and 11 (AMP), we are told…

“…There is still awaiting a full and complete Sabbath-rest reserved for the [true] people of God… Let us therefore be zealous and exert ourselves and strive diligently to enter that rest [of God, to know and experience it for ourselves], that no one may fall or perish by the same kind of unbelief and disobedience [into which those in the wilderness fell].” Does this mean that a lack of zeal, exertion, and striving toward the rest of God — which speaks of His Rest but could also point to the rest (or continuation) of God — reveals unbelief and disobedience? Selah. (think on this)

Obviously, the High Calling is not for the masses. The faint of heart need not apply. There are no shortcuts. “The way to Life – to God! – is vigorous and requires total attention” (Matt 7:14 MSG).

“We must be intentional about our spiritual maturity, or it won’t happen. Even biology teaches us that when we stop growing, we start dying.” Rick Joyner

As Paul said First Corinthians 9:24-27 (AMP), “Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but [only] one receives the prize? So run [your race] that you may lay hold [of the prize] and make it yours. Now every athlete who goes into training conducts himself temperately and restricts himself in all things. They do it to win a wreath that will soon wither, but we [do it to receive a crown of eternal blessedness] that cannot wither. Therefore I do not run uncertainly (without definite aim). I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary. But [like a boxer] I buffet my body [handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships] and subdue it, for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit [not stand the test, be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit].”

If Paul was “afraid” that he could have been found “unfit… unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit” after all he did for the Gospel, how much more “afraid” should we be? How much more focused, temperate, and disciplined should we be? While many runners compete, only one receives the prize — a prize of far greater eternal value than any earthly reward. So, let us answer the call from a heart of love for our Lord. As we surrender entirely to Him, He will help us run this race and finish well. His Life within us will “cause” us to walk in His paths (Ezek 36:27).

Application

So, now, go somewhere quiet and let Him know you want to really follow Him, that you want to be a true disciple of His. Then, ask Him for help and for practical direction on what you can do everyday, starting that very moment, to walk this narrow path (What He shares with you won’t be what He shares with everyone because we’re all different and He knows what it will take to get you to the finish line.). Finally, write down what He shares with you and ask Him to help you walk it out each day. He longs to walk with you as a friend within the Life of relationship, trust and cooperation.

Religion teaches us to “work harder” and “do more” and “try harder” but it never works. We cannot produce the life of God. So, as it says in Romans 8:4, in the Message Bible, “…Instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.”

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