PARTNERS WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT: PART LXXXVII
Jesus did not appear comfortable among crowds. He chose twelve men to be with Him; however, on closer contact, Jesus preferred to have Peter and the two Zebedee brothers with Him (Mark 5:37; 9:2; 14:33). Most of Jesus’ contacts and dealings were with individuals. Crowds followed Jesus in the beginning, but His demands diminished them quickly and so did many disciples (John 6:60-71). The crowds did intimidate prospective disciples and made teaching, on a personal relationship, difficult. To make disciples required encounters between teacher and student over a lengthy period of time to impart faith and knowledge in and about Jesus the Christ. When Jesus sent out his disciples two by two, they were instructed to stay in one home with a person with a family until they had taught them sufficiently to be disciples of Jesus. They had to use their common sense to determine how long they could remain in a place (Matthew 10:11-15).
In teaching converts to become disciples of Jesus, teachers need to learn themselves to be patient and quite tolerant with their students. The teacher must restrain their eagre tendency to overfeed a convert, which can be just as harmful as underfeeding him/her. Jesus used salt and light to guard against excess and waste. The teachers need to find out at what stage, in the life, of their students are before they feed them a heavy application of salt and an overexposure of light. Take the disciples themselves who were slow of heart to grasp Jesus’ intentions (Luke 24:25). Jesus wondered out loud how long He had to put up with them or with us (Matthew 17:17; Mark 9:19; Luke 9:41)? We all perceive, learn, retain, and grow at different speeds. Even when we reach maturity, we vary in our abilities and aptitudes to live and perform differently. It is to be noted that the apostles had three years with Jesus. And yet, they still needed help from the Holy Spirit to remember what Jesus had commanded them to teach. On top of it, while they would be teaching, Jesus’ Spirit would be with them (Matthew 28:20). For the rest of us, Jesus made this commitment and He gave us these examples in making disciples. We must remain certain that we have preserved ourselves. Jesus has entrusted his followers to disciple each other and gain new ones. However, teachers and established believers ought to restrain from coercing candidates from becoming disciples. To disciple means to teach and edify by words, examples, and by deeds. The choice of candidates was the Apostle’s, but the outcome was with the candidates. According to the Sower, only twenty-five percent may choose to become disciples themselves (Luke 8:9-15).
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE CHOSEN OR ELECTED?
It is a misleading topic that has been misunderstood and misapplied. It is difficult to find a point where to begin to examine the idea of “choice and election.” Too many supporters and believers held and hold to the idea that “God’s choice and election” are final, and that some were chosen for heaven and some for hell. That, unfortunately, is not the way “choice and election” have played out in the Bible. God did not make robots! But, God made a human being with the ability to choose between right and wrong. However, the will is equipped with a desire to choose that has led to more bad than good choices (James 4:1-10). Like Adam and Eve, we do tend to reach for the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:1-7). Jesus too had this problem with some of his disciples. The people He chose were not perfect and their calling was not a safe trip into heaven. His own disciples had to live within the Law of God and not in the tradition of the fathers to be righteous. According to Paul and Jesus, preachers can be disqualified.
After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with Jesus. Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God.” Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was to betray him (John 6:66-71).
And it came to pass, when the time was come that he (Jesus) should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, And sent messengers before his face:and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, ‘Lord, wilt tou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?’ But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, ‘Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.’ And they went to another village (Luke 9: 51-56; KJV).
Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteouness exceeds that of the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:17-20).
Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air; but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified (I Corinthians 9:24-27).
“Not every one who who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evil-doers’” (Matthew 7:21-23).
You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:13-16).
WHY DID JESUS SAY, “WHAT YOU BIND ON EARTH WILL BE BOUND IN HEAVEN”?
Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, If two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them (Matthew 18:18-20).
The verb in question is “desete’ from “dew” to “bind, tie, join, unite, combine, bring together” and so on. It has to do with forming unions, committing to agreements in contracts, and promises like in marriage, in membership in organizations. Both parties are bound to abide faithfully to their bonding. There are conditions that must be met for a union to continue and a relationship to survive. For instance, to reciprocate God’s love for Israel, Israel had to live and abide by God’s Laws. The love Jesus had for his disciples, the disciples could manifest by obeying Jesus’ Words and Commandments. Love and not a cord could and can wrap around a teacher and a student, a pastor and his people, a husband and his wife, and so forth. The Risen Christ passed on that bonding to the Apostles, and He called it “forgiveness.” Forgiveness sets people free and forgiveness does not tie them in bundles, so that they cannot keep their part in any partnership. Forgiveness is the “heavencord” that binds man to God by binding man to man.
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood amon them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they say the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20: 19-23).
I do not pray for these (apostles) only, but also for those who are to believe in me through their word, that they may be all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast love them even as thou hast loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which thou hast given me in they love for e before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father the world has not known thee, but I have known thee, and these know that thou hast sent me. I made known to them thy name, and I will make it known, that the love with which thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them (John 17:20-26).
THE BOND BETWEEN GOD AND ISRAEL WAS LOVE MANIFESTED IN THE OBSERVANCE OF THE LAW
But be doers of the word (law), and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who observes his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But he who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no header that forgets but a doer that acts, he shall be blessed in his doing (James 1:22-25).
For you are a people holy to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his own possession, out of all the peoples that are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in numbers than any other people that the LORD set his love upon you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all people; but it is because the LORD loves you, and is keeping the oath which he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, and requite him to his face. You shall therefore be careful to do the commandment, and the statues, and the ordinances which command you this day.
And because you hearken to these ordinances, and keep and do them, the LORD your God will keep with you the covenant and the steadfast love which he swore to you fathers to keep; he will love you, bless you, and multiply you; he will also bless the fruit of your body and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your wine and oil, the increase of your cattle, and the young of your flock, in the land which he swore to your fathers to give you. You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle. And the LORD will take away from you all sickness; and none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which you knew, will he inflict upon you, but he will lay them upon all who hate you. And you shall destroy all the peoples that the LORD your God will give over to you, your eye shall not pity them; neither shall you serve their gods, for that would be a snare to you (Deuteronomy 7:6-16).
The people of Israel were warned if they untied the bond with God that they would be scattered (Deuteronomy 4:27). Jesus told his audience that their kingdom has been taken from them, and given to others (Matthew 21:43). The same happened to the Apostles and Christians who had not left Jerusalem. They too were scattered and so will we who do not obey the Lord (Acts 8:1-4; 12;17). God has replacements waiting to serve.