“So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions” (Luke 14:33, NASB).
Sometimes we think that being a member of a local church is the same thing as being a disciple of Jesus. It’s certainly intended to be that way. But there seems to be some variations in the admission requirements between church membership and discipleship.
Now, it’s fairly easy to meet the requirements for church membership. Shake the preacher’s hand and say a little prayer; tell God you’re sorry and promise to believe in Him. And maybe even get baptized! But Jesus had something more comprehensive in mind when he specified the requirements for being His disciple.
“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven…Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you” (Matthew 6:1, 4, NLT).
When we practice the spiritual disciplines of giving, praying, and fasting we are cultivating a quality of life that helps us develop an authentic relationship with God.
“Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in August of that year. He had arranged to leave Babylon on April 8, the first day of the new year, and he arrived at Jerusalem on August 4, for the gracious hand of his God was on him. This was because Ezra had determined to study and obey the Law of the Lord and to teach those decrees and regulations to the people of Israel.” (Ezra 7:8-10, NLT).
King Cyrus of Persia had allowed the Jews to return to their homeland in 538 BC. The returning Jews rebuilt the Temple and completed it in 515 BC, approximately 70 years after its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar (This Second Temple stood for approximately 585 years until the Roman army of Titus destroyed it in 70 AD.)
“But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7, HCSB).
There’s a saying we use quite often in religious circles to describe one’s spiritual transformation. We say “I’ve seen the light.”
In this verse the Apostle John clarifies that being a disciple of Jesus is not just a matter of seeing the light but rather walking in the light.
“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32, ESV).
The phrase from these verses, “the truth will set you free,” is frequently quoted out of context. It should be understood in connection with the previous phrase, “if you abide in my word.” To be set free, you must abide in Christ’s word!
“But you, man of God, run from these things, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the faith; take hold of eternal life that you were called to and have made a good confession about in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:11-12, HCSB).
In Part 1 of this meditation Paul instructed Timothy to use this present life as an opportunity to prepare for eternity with God by becoming more like God. To accomplish this, Paul told Timothy to train himself in godliness through disciplined, rigorous practice in personal devotion and service to God.
Now Paul tells Timothy that he should fight for the faith and take hold of eternal life!
“Train yourself in godliness for the training of the body has a limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:7-8, HCSB).
In this verse the Apostle Paul is explaining to his protege, Timothy, that we live our present life in preparation for eternity. Paul says that we should live our lives in anticipation of eternal life!