Friday, August 01, 2008

“Jesus and His Disciples”

What is discipleship to Jesus? It is the call of Jesus to follow Him, the Lamb of God (John 4:36 ); as a life-long learner, “complete” [“fully trained,” Luke 6:40 ]; in service for the Master [“fishers of men,” Matt. 4:19 ]. Discipleship, then, involves: (1) the initiating call of Jesus; (2) the Master teaching students who are open to all the truth unto perfection; (3) whether as one’s full-time profession, or as an avocation; involvement in catching souls for Christ.

Whom does Jesus call to follow Him? “Whom He did predestinate, them He also called” (Rom. 8:30 ). Whom did He predestinate? “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate” (Rom. 8:29 ). Whom did He foreknow? We are shut up to the conclusion that He foreknew everyone. So every last soul who has ever set foot on earth was foreknown by Jesus and predestinated to be called by name to His service.

How does Jesus fully train them in Christian perfection; “to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29 )? “Whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified” (Rom. 8:30 ). Here is wonderful truth not fully recovered since the time the Apostle Paul penned these words.

Everyone is called by Jesus. Likewise everyone is justified by Jesus. In an objective sense, Christ’s death is an act so extravagantly comprehensive, that it encircles the globe, so that God is able to treat everyone as pardoned for their sin. This wonderful gift is wrapped in the person of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. It is literally given by God to every individual.

How does justification bring Christian perfection? “And whom He justified, them He also glorified” (Rom. 8:29 , 30). This gift of legal justification, if unhindered by the recipient, effects the fruitage of sanctifying power in the life, and is revealed in ultimate glorification at the Lord’s appearing. All of this is God’s predestination for every soul. Though the wicked are mercifully granted temporary pardon for a brief lifetime, by their choice of frustrating the grace of God, they unhappily never experience the benefits: the forgiveness of their sins, and its unleashed power in their lives.

How may this wonderful message about Jesus enable Him to use us as fishers of men? Just as Andrew, the former disciple of John the Baptist, followed “the Lamb of God,” and subsequently found his brother Peter (John 1:40); likewise, we have been given a vision of Jesus Christ that is inclusive of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. His love is so extravagant that it embraces every soul with an atmosphere of His grace. We are just an after fragrance that comes along providing an additional incentive for that soul to follow Jesus.

Have you been given a revelation of Jesus Christ? Most certainly. In the unique circumstances in which you are located, Jesus has called you, and given you a vision of Himself crucified for you.

A young woman’s testimony is to the effect that at a critical time in her life, when her mother was terminally ill, Jesus showed Himself to her in a vision. She saw Jesus standing before her extending His hand and speaking to her in her own language and specific dialect. To her this was an invitation to never pull her hand away from the Saviour, but to ever let Him lead in her life. This commissioning for service by the nail-pierced hands of the Saviour, is as much an ordination of the unseen hands as any formal laying on of hands at an ordination service of an elder or pastor in the church.

You do not need to have such a visible manifestation of the call of Jesus to service. You have something equally as authoritative for your call to discipleship. Jesus says to you, “Go ye therefore. ... I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:19, 20). That’s exactly where you are right now, “the end of the world.” You are ordained by the unseen, nail-pierced hands of Jesus.

Paul E. Penno

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