A Pretty Solid Decision - Purity 843
Purity 843 09/22/2022 Purity 843 Podcast
Today’s photo an almost foreboding pathway to the beach at Middleton in South Australia comes to us from Dave Baun Photography (https://www.facebook.com/DaveBaunPhotography) who shared this scene back on August 19th commenting:
“There are so many of these little openings along our coast that lead to the beach. Many look very similar but they are all unique. Every time I walk by one with my camera I pause and choose… shot or not? Of course it depends on the sky and the surrounding vegetation, or lack of. This day down near Middleton was a pretty solid decision.”
Well It’s Thursday again and even though today’s photo may give us the sense that we don’t necessarily want to ascend up that path for fear of what may lie on the other side, while I will to admit to the reality that the pathways of Christian Discipleship may lead us to places we don’t want to go, I am here to encourage you, that even though the path before you may be uncertain or positively frightening, “do it afraid” because if the Lord calls you to go into difficult situations we can be assured that He will be with us to give us the strength and the wisdom to go through it and that it’s taking those steps of faith into the unknown that lead to our freedom and maturation as Christians. And like our friend Dave said, When we take that “shot”, we can know that we made a pretty solid decision.
A couple of days ago I listened to Eric Metaxas’ Letter to the American Church in which he discussed the parallels between what Christians are seeing in our country currently and how it is eerily similar to what the people of Germany faced in the 1930’s. Metaxas highlights the experiences of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and how he unsuccessfully tried to wake up the church in Germany of the dangers of the church being complicit and submissive to the totalitarian rule under Adolf Hitler and the disastrous effects that possibly could have been avoided had the church in Germany chose to follow Christ rather than the powers of the government. To his credit Bonhoeffer saw the writing on the wall long before the true evil of Hitler’s schemes came to their deadly ends but the lesson of Nazi Germany shows us how good people can be lead astray when they compromise their Christian principles for following the “current trends” in society.
The German church suffered from a long tradition of nationalism and honoring their governmental leaders to the point that German churches had images of ex-chancellors right in their churches. This tradition of support of the powers that be and their national pride was a departure from following the Lordship of Christ and it was exploited to horrible ends when Hitler came to power.
Metaxas points to this subtle compromise and weakness in the church of Germany at that time and makes the case the American church is also at a cultural crossroads of sorts where the failure of the “church to be the church” could lead to a future in which countless people will suffer and die because Christians are afraid to stand for Christ and the Bible’s standards of morality in our current culture who subtly or blatantly opposes the ways of our Savior and the words of the Bible.
Metaxas points to the proliferation of the Marxist – Socialistic doctrine of Critical Race Theory, lax sexual ethics, support of the idea that abortion (murder) is a “right” or “healthcare”, and the availability of gender reassignment procedures in our current society as issues that Christians should speak out about and oppose, indicating that if we do nothing now to resist these current trends, to show our love for the people who have been deceived in believing these things were “good”, our country will be transformed where the Christian voice will eventually be silenced as our current cancel culture has already shown us.
Metaxas is pointing to and encouraging us to take the hard road of speaking the truth in love, without affirming others who are living a lifestyle that is in opposition to what the Bible teaches. Metaxas is calling for Christians to be Christians, not just in word but in deed, to not just say we “believe” but to live like we believe and to be bold enough to stand o the word of God and to call what is evil, evil, and what is good, good.
The cultural impasse we face is the result of years of the failure of the church in America and throughout the “West” to be the church. The cheap grace that Bonhoeffer wrote about in 1937 that highlighted the lack of discipleship in a time where Christianity was part of the fabric of society is alive and well today but even worse as that Christian fabric of society has worn thin and denominational churches are dwindling and those seeking to follow Christ have to be wise in discerning in where they worship because of the rise of false teachers that profess to have spiritual power with their prosperity gospels or their prophetic, end times, miracles, signs and wonders doctrines.
So what are we supposed to do?
I encourage people to follow Christ with the way they live their life. I have learned that following Jesus and living according to the wisdom of the word of God can transform lives by correcting the errors that we make when we believe the lies of the world.
I am currently doing a series on Bonhoeffer’s Cost Discipleship to encourage people to be authentic in their Christian faith and I believe that if enough Christians sought the Lord’s will for their life and repented of their sins, the “church” could not only turn the tide of what is happening of our society, we could help millions to live a life of peace, love, and joy by teaching them what the Lord says about how to live our lives and how the path of Christian Discipleship is not a death march but leads from darkness to light, from sorrow to joy, and from death to life.
So as I always say, keep walking and talking with God and be bold to follow the Lord’s lead to oppose the spiritual forces of darkness and the lies that our current society is enmeshed in, without condemnation but with compassion, care concern that comes from a heart that once was broken, from eyes that once were blind, and a life that once was broken but who were all made new by Christ.
Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
Romans 5:3-5 (NLT2)
3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.
4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.
5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
Today’s Bible verse assures us that the trials we face have a purpose: to build our endurance, our character, our confidence of salvation, and that we will not be disappointed.
With the hard path that Eric Metaxas encourages us to take in His latest book, and the orientation of the pathway of Christian discipleship leads to in the first place, there will be trials.
But today’s verse encourages us to not lose our hope when we walk through them and that even if we suffer in our attempts to follow and serve the Lord, it only edifies us and assures us of who we are in Christ by reminding us how Christ suffered for us and how He did it all out of love.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue sharing from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Discipleship”, also known as “The Cost of Discipleship”
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Bonhoeffer’s books for your own private study and to support his work. This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.
The Call to Discipleship - Continued
¶ Three points should be noted in these words to the young man: First, it is now Jesus himself who is commanding. Jesus had just referred the young man away from the good master to God who alone is good. Now Jesus claims authority to say to him the last word and commandment. The young man has to recognize that the Son of God himself is standing before him. Jesus’ reality as the Son of God was hidden from the young man when Jesus pointed away from himself toward the Father. Yet this pointing away from himself united him completely with his Father. It is this unity which now enables Jesus to speak his Father’s commandment. That must have become unmistakably clear to the young man when he heard Jesus’ call to follow him. This call is the sum of all commandments the young man is called to live in community with Christ. Christ is the fulfillment of the commandments. This is the Christ who is standing before him and calling him. He cannot flee any longer into the untruth of ethical conflict. The commandment is clear: follow me.
¶ The second point is this: Even this call to discipleship needs clarification so it will not be misunderstood. Jesus has to make it impossible for the young man to misunderstand following him as an ethical adventure, an unusual, interesting, but potentially revocable path and lifestyle. Discipleship would also be misunderstood if the young man were to view it as a final conclusion of his previous deeds and questions, as a summary of what went before, as a supplement, completion, or perfection of his past. In order to eliminate all ambiguity, a situation has to be created in which the person cannot retreat, in other words, an irrevocable situation. At the same time it must be clear that it is not just a complement to life before the call. Jesus’ challenging the young man to voluntary poverty creates the situation that is called for. This is the existential, pastoral side of the matter. It is intended to help the young man finally to understand and to obey in the right way. It arises from Jesus’ love for the young man. It is only the intermediate link between the young man’s previous life and discipleship. But notice that it is not identical with discipleship itself. It is not even the first step of discipleship. Rather, it is the obedience within which discipleship can then become real. First the young man must go and sell everything and give to the poor, and then come and follow Jesus. The goal is following Jesus, and the way in this case is voluntary poverty.
¶ The third point is that Jesus accepts the young man’s question about what he is still lacking: “If you want to be perfect …” That really could give the impression that Jesus is talking about adding something on to the young man’s previous life. It really is an addition, but one whose content abolishes everything of one’s past. The young man has not been perfect so far, for he has wrongly understood and obeyed the commandment. Now he can rightly understand and obey in discipleship, but even then only because Jesus Christ has called him to it. By accepting the young man’s question, Jesus has wrested it from him. The young man asked about his path to eternal life. Jesus answered: I am calling you, that is all.
The young man seeks an answer to his question. The answer is: Jesus Christ. The young man wanted to hear the word of a good master, but now he has to recognize that this Word is actually the man himself whom he is questioning. The young man is standing before Jesus, the Son of God. The full encounter is present. The only choices are yes or no, obedience or disobedience. The young man’s answer is no. He went away sadly; he was disappointed and had lost his hope, but he still could not abandon his past. He had a lot of property. The call to discipleship here has no other content than Jesus Christ himself, being bound to him, community with him. But the existence of a disciple does not consist in enthusiastic respect for a good master. Instead, it is obedience toward the Son of God.
This story of the rich young man has a direct correspondence with the story framing the parable of the Good Samaritan. “Just then a scribe stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What do you read there?’ He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.’ And he said to him, ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’ But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’ ” (Luke 10:25–29).
The scribe’s question is the same as the young man’s. Only here it is clear from the outset that the question is intended as a temptation. The tempter’s solution is already set. It is intended to dead-end in the aporia [perplexity] of ethical conflict. Jesus’ answer fully resembles his answer to the young man. The questioner basically knows the answer to his question. But by asking it, even though he already knows the answer, he is shirking obedience to God’s commandment. The only thing left for him is the advice: do what you know; then you will live.
This takes his first position away from him. There follows, again like the young man’s, the scribe’s flight into ethical conflict: “Who is my neighbor?” Since then, this question of the tempting scribe has been asked countless times in good faith and ignorance. It has the good reputation of being a serious and reasonable question from an inquiring person. But people doing so have not carefully read the context. The whole story of the Good Samaritan is Jesus’ singular rejection and destruction of this question as satanic. It is a question without end, without answer. It springs from “those who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth,” who are “conceited, understanding nothing, and [have] a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words.” From them flow “envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, and wrangling” (1 Tim. 6:4f.). It is a question from the pompous, “who are always being instructed and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth,” who are “holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Tim. 3:5ff.). They are unqualified to have faith. They ask questions like this because their “consciences are seared with a hot iron” (1 Tim. 4:2), because they do not want to obey God’s word. Who is my neighbor? Is there an answer to this, whether it is my biological brother, my compatriot, my brother in the church, or my enemy? Could we not assert or deny the one just as rightly as any other? Is the end of this question not division and disobedience? Yes, this question is rebellion against God’s commandment itself. I want to be obedient, but God will not tell me how I can be so. God’s commandment is ambiguous; it leaves me in perpetual conflict. The question What should I do? was the first betrayal. The answer is: do the commandment that you know. You should not ask; you should act. The question Who is my neighbor? is the final question of despair or hubris, in which disobedience justifies itself. The answer is: You yourself are the neighbor. Go and be obedient in acts of love. Being a neighbor is not a qualification of someone else; it is their claim on me, nothing else. At every moment, in every situation I am the one required to act, to be obedient. There is literally no time left to ask about someone else’s qualification. I must act and must obey; I must be a neighbor to the other person. If you anxiously ask again whether or not I should know and consider ahead of time how to act, there is only the advice that I cannot know or think about it except by already acting, by already knowing myself to be challenged to act. I can only learn what obedience is by obeying, not by asking questions. I can recognize truth only by obeying. Jesus’ call to the simplicity of obedience pulls us out of the dichotomy of conscience and sin. The rich young man was called by Jesus into the grace of discipleship, but the tempting scribe is shoved back to the commandment.
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship
 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 73–76.