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ReVision

Firm to the End

Discipleship is a full-time, lifetime calling.

The Christian’s Calling (7) 

But hold fast what you have till I come. Revelation 2.25

All of life, all life long
The call to be a disciple of Jesus Christ is a summons to an entirely new way of life. Old things have passed away; all things are becoming new (2 Cor. 5.17).

As we set our minds on Christ, exalted in glory, and see Him building His Church and advancing His Kingdom, we will take up with greater consistency and effect our Kingdom-and-glory calling to follow Him here and now (1 Thess. 2.12). We can’t follow Jesus and keep dragging around the old perspectives, priorities, and practices that characterized us before He came along and said, “Follow Me.” We must lay those aside if we are to run the race of discipleship fruitfully and consistently (Heb. 12.1, 2).

The first disciples had to leave their nets and their former ways of thinking, living, and relating to people, to learn the new ways of a Kingdom not of this world. As they did, they discovered a purpose to live and die for, and power and joy and love, which they were able to nurture and sustain throughout the course of their lives.

The first disciples understood that following Jesus is a call to an entirely new way of life, for all of one’s life, all life long. We are not true disciples of Jesus if our devotion to Him merely fills some niche in our lives, or functions as one of many commitments we tout as defining who we are. When we can say with the Apostle Paul, “For me to live is Christ,” then we will be disciples of Jesus indeed (Phil. 1.21).

Challenges to following Jesus
Jesus promised that all who choose to follow Him should expect to be challenged. That includes us. He indicated that those closest to us – our families, friends, and co-workers – would question or even oppose our discipleship. He said that some people would hate us because they would not appreciate having their wicked deeds exposed. Some people, Jesus said, would mistreat His disciples and speak evil of us, even in the name of the Lord, thinking they were doing a good thing.

But most of all, Jesus knew, His followers would be opposed, harassed, and harried in their discipleship by spiritual forces of wickedness in high places. Jesus dealt with the devil and his henchmen throughout the course of His earthly sojourn, and, while our struggles are perhaps not as dramatic as were His, they are just as real, and just as constant.

All who would follow Jesus need to be prepared to engage in a spiritual struggle that is unrelenting, subtle, and subversive of true faith (Eph. 6.10-20) What are the signs that we have entered the spiritual battle zone, and how can we keep up our discipleship in the face of withering spiritual fire?

In the fray
For the most part, our experience of the wiles of the devil will not be the dramatic, demonic sort. The devil is wily, we must remember, and not usually overt. He will sow doubts in our minds, doubts about the power of prayer, the reliability of God’s Word, the importance of seeking the Kingdom, the demands of the Gospel, and the efficacy of sharing the Gospel with others. Then, when we demur at any of these points, he will firm up our hesitations until we become comfortable with them, and they trouble us no more.

When we find ourselves doubting God’s Word in anything, we are listening not to Jesus, but to the devil.

Temptation is another way the devil tries to divert us from following Jesus. Being in temptation, the German theologian Helmut Thielicke wrote, is finding yourself at the point of wanting to be disloyal to God. Our affections go awry, our thinking gets confused, our Kingdom priorities become compromised, and we end up wanting to do the very things that put Jesus on the cross so many years ago. Rather than following Jesus through temptation to growth, we betray Jesus by falling through temptation and lapsing into sin. Which is then followed by shame and doubt and self-denigration – more tools in the devil’s toolbox.

And you can also know that you’ve entered the spiritual fray whenever you find that you are thinking about your discipleship in terms of what’s in it for you. The devil appeals to pride and self-interest. He will encourage you to want to be somebody, or be known as a serious Christian, or be visible as a leader, or whatever. He wants you to seek glory and honor and prestige in the name of Jesus, because then he will have frustrated – or so he supposes – the Lord’s determination to bring all glory to Himself. Or, he’ll convince you that “good enough” discipleship is good enough for you; no need for any further pressing on or excelling still more.

Doubt, temptations, complacency – these are primary ways the devil will try to sidetrack our discipleship, lest we press on as disciples making disciples to turn our world rightside-up for the Lord.

Take up the weapons of our warfare
This spiritual warfare is unremitting. We can expect to endure it throughout our lives, as long as we are determined to follow Jesus in every area of our lives.

So we need to learn the right use of all the weapons God has put at our disposal (Eph. 6.10-20), chief among these being faith, righteousness, prayer, and the Word of God. Devote yourself to Jesus every day, and every moment of every day. Put on the helmet of salvation, and let its royal plumage sign your allegiance to Christ and determination to follow Him. Then arm yourself with the tools and weapons you’ll need for advancing His Kingdom. If you will, no matter how fierce the struggle becomes for your soul, as a true follower of Jesus, you will endure.

And those who hold fast to what they have in Jesus, and endure to the end, and who encourage other disciples to stay the course with them, will prove to God, themselves, and everyone who knows them, that they are true disciples of the Lord Jesus.

For reflection
1. What do we mean by “spiritual warfare”? What forms does this take?

2. How should we prepare each day for undertaking this spiritual warfare?

3. What does it mean to “hold fast” to what we have in Jesus? How can believers help one another in this work?

Next steps – Preparation: In what ways do you experience spiritual warfare? Are you as prepared for this daily struggle as you should be? What can you do to make sure you have put on the full armor of God before you launch out into the new day?

T. M. Moore

Subtle but Bound

The devil will continuously try to throttle your discipleship. The more you know about his motives and operations, the better prepared you’ll be to resist him and keep him at bay. Order a free copy of our book, Satan Bound, and prepare yourself to overcome evil with good every day of your life (click here).

The Scriptorium
In our daily worship and Bible study teaching letter, we have begun a study of Colossians. Click here to read this week’s installments thus far. Use the pop-up to update your subscriptions to include Scriptorium.

Thanks for your prayers and support
If you find ReVision helpful in your walk with the Lord, please seek the Lord, asking Him whether you should contribute to the support of this daily ministry with your financial gifts. As the Lord leads, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved
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T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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