Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 NLT
Jesus was speaking to the 500 people or so who had gathered at the appointed time and place just before He ascended to heaven. They were representative of all the believers. Thus Jesus gave this commission to the entire church. Yet He did not mean for every believer to leave their regular vocations to accomplish the commission. He did not mean for them to spread the gospel only after work either. We are gospel missionaries before work, during work and after work.
It requires more grace, more stern discipline of character, to work for God in the capacity of mechanic, merchant, lawyer, or farmer, carrying the precepts of Christianity into the ordinary business of life, than to labor as an acknowledged missionary in the open field. It requires a strong spiritual nerve to bring religion into the workshop and the business office, sanctifying the details of everyday life, and ordering every transaction according to the standard of God’s word. But this is what the Lord requires. -Ellen White, Amazing Grace, page 64.
Being a minister in the pulpit may be the easier job, but He calls most of us to the more difficult task of living out His life just where He has placed us. We don’t win people to Jesus by preaching only, but by what they see in our lives.
I have many friends who are ordained ministers and many friends who are lay pastors, who have a “regular” job and ministry. Some lay pastors say they work all day to support themselves and their ministry, and then after they get off work they then work for God. I don’t see it that way. I believe they are full-time pastors, working for God even while doing their “regular” job.
You may be thinking to yourself, I am not a pastor of a church. This post does not apply to me, but it does! Some people are pastors of a church. All parents are pastors of their families. You may be the “pastor” of your office staff, or even the “pastor” of your golf group.
For years I too was a lay pastor while working for UPS. I supervised the early shift starting around 3 AM. I was not the only Christian or even the only pastor working at UPS. Students from a nearby Baptist seminary and other lay pastors of various denominations worked there as well. One morning I had to call and wake up one of my employees who overslept. He apalogized, realizing he was already supposed to be at work. He was a Christian, so I told him, “Get in here as fast as you can, after you have your prayer and Bible time.” First I was a pastor. Second I was a UPS supervisor with a deadline to meet.
As Gospel Workers we always pray before entering the pulpit where we preach for thirty minutes. How much more so should we pray before going to our regular jobs, where we will be preaching by word and example, not a mere thirty minutes but rather 8-10 hours.
This is how it was with Jesus.
Christ was just as truly doing His Father’s business when toiling at the carpenter’s bench as when working miracles for the multitude. –Ellen White, Heavenly Places, Page 214
You might think a “regular” job might get in the way of your ministry, but it does not have to be that way. I talked to a lady, who told me she had a gift and card shop that was just breaking even for many years. She said she kept it open because people were coming in all the time who needed encouragement, and it was a great way to meet people. In my own work at UPS, I was working on the sort isle at UPS one morning when the man sorting next to me started asking questions about Revelation. While we were working hard at 3 in the morning, I was able to share some Christ-centered teachings from Revelation. In all my years as a paid Bible Worker I was never able to give a Bible study at 3 am, but that morning I had the opportunity to share Jesus with someone that I may not have had the opportunity to meet any other time or place.
There’s a story of a Romanian prisoner who was always talking about Jesus. Finally the guard had enough and told him, he could make one last sentence about Jesus, and then could say no more. What would you say if you could only say one sentence about Jesus?
The Christian prisoner did something very wise. He said as his last sentence, “Jesus is like me.” You may think that statement was a bold and presumptuous. But it was actually very wise and humble. Knowing he could talk about Jesus no more, he simply used those words to let everyone know, watch me, and I will show you Jesus.
As disciples of Jesus we do not just use our “regular” jobs to support our ministry. We make our “regular” jobs a part of our ministry. We don’t leave our “regular” jobs at the end of the day to go do our ministry. We do our ministry while at our “regular” jobs, preaching by example, and reaching people we never would have met during our “gospel worker” job.
Some police officers wear the uniform, but other police officers find they are actually more effective in accomplishing their mission if they dress just like everyone else. They are called “plain clothes officers” or “undercover detectives.” In plain clothes or in uniform, they are police officers just the same.
If you are a disciple of Jesus, you may be wearing a suit like a regular minister, or you may be wearing a delivery uniform or restaurant uniform, or medical scrubs or what have you. Either way, what you really are is a pastor and evangelist! May God help us all to show the world what Jesus is really like.
You can view an in-depth discussion of “The Call to Discipleship” in the Hope Sabbath School class led by Pastor Derek Morris. (Adobe Flash Player version.) A Youtube version of this week’s lesson at Hope Sabbath School is below. You can download the video, the MP3 audio, and the lesson outline from the HopeTV Sabbath School Site. You might also want to bookmark the HopeSS Youtube channel.
Probably the image most Adventists have of Elder John Byington is based on the only photograph they’ve ever seen which portrays the aged patriarch as a silver-haired, balding, bearded, wrinkled, scowling preacher in a black frockcoat and white shirt buttoned tightly around the neck. Consequently, they might be surprised to learn that he was a loving, devoted husband to two wives – Mary Ferris (1823-1829) and Catharine Newton (1830-1885) – for more than sixty years; a warm-hearted but firm father to eight children; and a generous grandpa and great-grandpa to seventeen grandchildren and great-grandchildren who loved to visit him “down on the farm.” Indeed, the Byington’s family reunions made the front page of Battle Creek’s leading newspaper. Despite being busy with farm and church duties, John and Catharine frequently visited, wrote letters to, and prayed earnestly for their scattered family members living in Michigan, New York, New Jersey, and Kansas.
Elder Byington never drew a salary
Even Adventists who have heard that Elder Byington never received a salary from the church probably don’t know that the reason he could volunteer his services was that the Byingtons operated profitable farms. In New York John and Catharine owned 200 acres of prime land with 87 farm animals; every year they sold tons of hay, wheat, corn, oats, and potatoes and hundreds of pounds of butter, cheese, and maple syrup as far away as Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia. When they moved to Michigan in 1858, they bought 340 acres and sold a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, hides, honey, and Catharine’s homemade mittens and candles in nearby towns. In addition, John sold calendars, repaired teeth, and made loans at ten percent interest. In short, the Byingtons operated profit-making agribusinesses that netted them hundreds of dollars in profits each year. Unlike conservative Adventists, however, the family ate meat, drank tea and coffee, and bought insurance policies (especially after their barn burned).
Perhaps one reason why the Byingtons’ lifestyle differed from other Adventists is that for half a century, the family had been Methodists. John’s brother Jared had helped to establish the Methodist-Episcopal Church in Connecticut in 1799; their father Justus, a circuit-riding preacher in Vermont, had played a key role in founding the Methodist Protestant Church in 1829. For nearly four decades after his conversion in 1816, John himself became a licensed preacher of Methodism in Vermont and New York, and in his forties, he helped form the new Wesleyan Methodist Church in St. Lawrence County, New York. Indeed, prior to his conversion to Sabbath-keeping Adventism in 1852, John had built Methodist chapels and parsonages in Bucks Bridge, Morley, and Lisbon, New York. To a certain extent, Elder Byington remained a “Seventh-day Methodist” throughout his long life (1798-1887), subscribing to the Methodist paper The Christian Advocate, reading John Wesley’s sermons, and regularly attending Methodist (as well as many other) Sunday services. In 1886, only months before he died, Byington recommended in the Review that Adventist social meetings should be revised to follow the pattern of Methodist class meetings.
Elder Byington strongly opposed slavery
As early as the 1830s, John was active in the short-lived Anti-Masonic Party which opposed membership in all secret societies. In the 1840s, he chaired conventions of the Liberty Party (1843-1848) and the Free Soil Party (1848-1852), both formed to end slavery in the United States. After the Republican Party was created in 1854, John and Catharine became life-long voting members of that party.
In part, the Byingtons’ involvement in the Wesleyan Methodist Church and in the Liberty and Free Soil parties reflected their strong abolitionist views. John’s brother Anson, who in the 1830s and 1840s was president of the Chittenden County, Vermont Anti-Slavery Society, had been expelled from the Congregational Church in 1849 for his abolitionist views and cancelled his subscription to the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald in 1859 because he felt that Uriah Smith did not advocate abolitionism strongly enough. John himself frequently chaired meetings of the St. Lawrence County Anti-Slavery Society, participated in abolitionist conventions, and—along with several other Byingtons and their Hilliard cousins—signed petitions in the 1850s demanding that the U.S. Congress abolish slavery, which he called “an outrage” and “a sin.” New evidence indicates that Anson and John Byington actively assisted fugitive slaves in escaping to Canada along the famous Underground Railroad which ran through Bucks Bridge in St. Lawrence County. Throughout his life Elder Byington enjoyed a close relationship with African Americans like Sojourner Truth and during his travels around Michigan, he was a frequent guest in the Hardy and Minesie homes, Black Adventists living near New Caledonia and Jamestown.
He practiced practical Christianity
To a significant degree, Elder Byington remained a circuit-riding revivalist preacher throughout his life. Unlike his Adventist ministerial colleagues, he did not receive a salary either from the Michigan Conference or from the General Conference; he did not conduct evangelistic tent meetings to convert non-Adventists; he did not preach long doctrinal sermons or write books on theology. Instead, he and Catharine set out to cheer the discouraged, reconcile differences, urge repentance, and build faith and unity by holding revival, testimony, prayer, quarterly, social, and business meetings; by preaching short homilies about heaven, grace, prayer, conversion, and perseverance; and by visiting and praying with every family in every Adventist congregation in his vast parish. To prepare for this mission, they began every New Year with fasting and prayer. Then they covered hundreds of back roads by horse, buggy, sleigh, and foot and traversed muddy quagmires, snow-drifted fields, dusty paths, and rock-strewn highways, facing carriage accidents, disease, and frequent opposition. Yet during his thirty-five-year ministry, Elder Byington witnessed stronger congregations, faith healings, hundreds of baptisms, and a tightly unified, rapidly growing denomination.
The Byingtons themselves contributed significantly to help make the Seventh-day Adventist Church grow in numbers and unity. John believed firmly that “God is a God of order in temporal as well as spiritual matters.” In 1853 his daughter Martha taught the first Adventist home school; in 1854 his wife Catharine taught the second (after Rochester, New York) children’s Sabbath school; and in 1855 John built the third (after Jackson and Battle Creek, Michigan) Adventist meetinghouse in Bucks Bridge, New York. Called to Michigan in 1857, Elder Byington spent the next thirty years combating heresies, organizing local churches, promoting “Gospel order” and systematic benevolence, and helping to create new institutions such as the Review and Herald, the Michigan Conference, the General Conference, the Western Health Reform Institute (where his son Fletcher served as a physician), and Battle Creek College. In addition, he served as the first General Conference president (1863-1865); helped to secure noncombatant status for Adventist soldiers; chaired numerous church committees; and held ministerial credentials into his eighty-eighth year.
As a busy family man, farmer, preacher, and administrator, Byington had little time for writing books, tracts, and articles. Instead, he penned short letters, reports, and two- or three-paragraph exhortations to readers of the Review and Youth’s Instructor reflecting his optimistic, can-do spirit and deep piety. Unlike the heavy doctrinal and theological sermons sent in by his ministerial colleagues, John wrote homilies emphasizing the need for homes “permeated with prayer” and offered sage advice about a wide spectrum of practical Christian living. While he strongly opposed some of the popular fads of his day (debating schools, bloomers, croquet, and spiritualism), he also played the role of an Adventist “Dear Abby” in his question-and-answer column in the Youth’s Instructor. His final written contribution (“Peace with God”) appeared in the Bible Echo in May 1887 four months after his death. In it he made the point that justification “has no reference to our good works,” but to Christ’s forgiveness of our sins, and that unless “the Holy Spirit fills the heart, we cannot have peace with God.” But if the Spirit dwells within us, he added, we can have grace, power, and a “hope that reaches forward to the heavenly rest.” In these few words, Elder John Byington aptly summarized the underlying theme of his ministry and, in a sense, staked his position on a contentious issue that would be debated at the Minneapolis General Conference the following year.
[This post was first published at https://adventistpeace.wordpress.com/2015/01/25/john-byingtons-radical-abolitionism-by-brian-strayer/]
“The Adventist Church is built on mission. Our commission comes from Christ, who told us to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” Mark 16:15, NIV. Sharing God’s love around the world is like a vehicle. It needs fuel to propel it. Our mission offerings are the fuel that propels almost every aspect of outreach. Without that fuel, our best efforts are hampered.
The church is united by its call to support mission. But few of us know exactly what the mission offering does, where it comes from, or where it goes. Our offerings support frontline evangelism in unentered countries as well as in teeming cities. They help build and sustain schools, establish churches, and help produce literature for distribution in hundreds of languages. In short, our mission offerings do everything our tithes can’t do.
In addition, the Thirteenth Sabbath Offering allows us to give to specific projects that grow the church in tangible ways…” (am.adventistmission.org)
As a ministry, Sabbath School Net is made possible by volunteers whose deepest desire is to see members study, share and grow as they feast daily on the great love story that is the Bible. Not everyone is so fortunate, yet as you and I are, and that is where Adventist Mission comes in.
Regular Mission Offerings vs 13th Sabbath Offerings
- Regular mission offerings are usually taken up in Sabbath School classes, and they are listed on your tithe envelopes. These voluntary offerings go into a general fund that supports Seventh-day Adventist mission projects throughout the world. Our support is crucial to keep this work going.
- 13th Sabbath offerings go directly to specific projects each quarter. Do you know to which projects this quarter’s offerings are going? Has your area of the world ever received a 13th Sabbath offering?
The specific projects to which 13th Sabbath offerings are dedicated are listed on the back of the quarterly. We are encouraged to see the progress and desire of the church while watching Mission Spotlight 1 at and/or the Mission 360 video through each quarter and are happy to give a hearty ‘Amen!’ But when it comes time for the 13th Sabbath offering, does our giving reflect the desire to support these projects through the quarter? Do we even give it a thought until we hear the announcement on the day that the 13th Sabbath offering will be taken up. Sadly, some churches do not even announce it, and the opportunity for this special offering passes by unnoticed. And we end up giving just whatever we have – which is whatever we normally prepare for any given Sabbath.
I remember my younger days, as I grew up as a good Catholic, and I recall in the months leading up to Christmas time we were given offering boxes for the poor which we would take home and fill up with the coins of the realm (Australian ones!) and proudly bring back so many weeks later to help those who had less than we did. It felt good. I hadn’t thought about this from then until I was sharing the idea with Inge via the Sabbath School Net Facebook page.
About seven years ago I first did up a 13th Sabbath Offering box with the desire to be better prepared to give to the mission projects of the quarter. And I made these available to other interested persons. My son and I have our box done up with the plan in place to put aside a specific amount each week, which works out to 6 -7 times what we would normally bring. It’s exciting to think of how much more Adventist Mission could do if we just planned to support them.
Download and print your copy (link to full image) out today and share it with your church members this coming Sabbath. Each quarter a new offering box will be made available and can be found here and on the Sabbath School Net Facebook page. The Adventist Resources mentioned on the sheet is a personal project of which the 13th Sabbath offering boxes are a part.
For ease of printing after you have saved it to your hard drive-
1. in Windows Explorer, right click on the file & select Preview
2. click Control P to print
3. remove the tick in the box that says Fit Picture to Frame and
4. Print. It will then print to the maximum size of your paper that your printer will print.
Updates are planned to feature new designs and translations into multiple languages. If you are able to support with translations, please reply here so they can be made available as soon as possible.
Update: April 20, 2015 – added a larger design to look like a house.
Click on the image for a full-size pattern.
Construction tip: fold & tape up all the sides leaving the blank “roof” section until last to join up. At some point a video will be added to show construction.
As His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day (Luke 4:16, NKJV). This is a good Adventist text. Most of us use it in evangelistic meetings or in Bible studies in order to emphasize the point that it was the practice of Jesus to keep the Sabbath.
Synagogues played a crucial role in Jewish religious life. During the exile, when the temple no longer existed, synagogues were built for worship and for the schooling of young children. A synagogue could be built wherever there were at least 10 Jewish families. Growing up in Nazareth, Jesus followed the
custom of going to the synagogue each Sabbath, and now on His first journey to His hometown, the Sabbath finds Him in the synagogue.
Read Mark 1:21, Mark 6:2, Luke 4:16-30, Luke 6:6-11, Luke 13:10-16, Luke 14:1-5. What do these texts teach us about Jesus and the Sabbath? As you read them, ask yourself where, if anywhere, you can find indications that Jesus was either abolishing our obligation to keep the Sabbath or pointing to another day to replace it?
Why should we make it our custom to go to church on Sabbath, as Jesus went to the synagogue on Sabbath?
As His custom was (Luke 4:16, NKJV). Only Luke uses this phrase: in Luke 4:16, as Jesus attended the synagogue in Nazareth; and in Luke 22:39, as the cross drew near, Jesus
went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives (RSV). Both times the
custom had to do with worship and prayer.
First, God is everywhere. He may be worshiped anywhere, but there’s something special about getting together in a common place on the day designated at Creation and commanded in His moral law.
Second, it provides a public opportunity to affirm that God is our Creator and Redeemer.
Finally, it gives an opportunity for fellowship and sharing each other’s joys and concerns.
Those who accuse us of legalism, or of being in bondage, because we keep the Sabbath have obviously missed out on the great blessing that the Sabbath can bring. In what ways have you experienced just how liberating Sabbath keeping can be?
The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:27-28, NKJV).
Although Luke wrote his Gospel primarily for the Gentiles, it is significant how frequently he refers to the Sabbath. Of the 54 times the Gospels and Acts refer to Sabbath, 17 are in Luke and 9 in Acts; there are 9 in Matthew, and 10 in Mark and 9 in John. As a Gentile convert, Luke certainly believed in the seventh-day Sabbath for Jews, as well as Gentiles. The first coming of Christ made no difference concerning the keeping of the Sabbath.
Christ, during His earthly ministry, emphasized the binding claims of the Sabbath; in all His teaching He showed reverence for the institution He Himself had given. In His day, the Sabbath had become so perverted that its observance reflected the character of selfish and arbitrary men rather than the character of God. Christ set aside the false teaching by which those who claimed to know God had misrepresented Him.-Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, p. 183.
This week’s lesson turns to Jesus as the Lord of the Sabbath: how He observed it and how He set an example for us to follow. The practice of observing the first day of the week as Sabbath has no sanction either in Christ or in the New Testament.
Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, May 2.
He’s sitting in a boat teaching. There is a massive crowd standing before Him with one particular thing in common. Luke 5:1 reads, “The multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God.”
This week as we look at “The Call to Discipleship,” we will concentrate on the events of this day in history. The lessons are many.
We could discuss if we really believe that the Word alone is powerful enough to draw men and women, or, if instead, we need to hide it behind a shiny exterior of excitement and entertainment. We could examine the prominence the Word has in our lives both privately and corporately.
I like Luke 5:4 because it typifies how Jesus gives directions with no uncertainty. Life is challenging. It seems that as soon as we start to get a handle on living we look back and see the years that were wasted in aimless pursuits because we lacked direction. But His directions are sure and the outcome of following His commands is already determined. “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” Luke 5:4
Simon, in verse five, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing”, speaks for many of us. Our failures and disappointments are so prevalent in our minds that instantly we think of what we can’t do. Like Simon we say we’ve already done our best and our best time for success has passed us by. And if it were all on us to succeed, that’s where the story would end.
But Simon took Him at His word and acted. Simon was directed to go back out into the same waters where he had just experienced defeat. He was not given a special net or inside secrets on catching fish. The only difference in what Simon took to his task was the simple instruction of Jesus.
Luke is writing a history of how a common man can do uncommon things simply by trusting Jesus and taking Him at His word. Amid all of the noise of life we often forget this central truth. We look at ourselves and we see so many instances of failure. We know our limitations and this keeps us from doing more. But today, heaven is saying, “Launch out into the deep.”
Luke writes about the huge haul of fish Simon and his companions caught that day. Overwhelmed by this clear encounter with Divinity, Simon from the depths of his soul cries out, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” Luke 5:8
Humility comes from facing divinity. Daniel experienced this as recorded in Daniel 10:8, “for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.” When the veil is pulled aside and divinity flashes through, our pride is vanquished.
In what happened next that, Jesus is speaking not only to Simon but to all of us.
“And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” Luke 5 10.
This is not merely instructions – this is a purpose for our lives. Being a disciple is more than a label; it is the consuming mission of our lives. Jesus gives us a reason for being. Life is about more than building bigger barns. It is about “catching men” for the Kingdom.
Now let’s go back to the beach at Lake Gennesaret. What will Simon and his companions do with this fresh encounter with Jesus? Will they bask in the miracle and add this to their treasures of great memories? Will they use this to find new status in their community or perhaps take advantage of this windfall to secure their futures?
Luke tells us the answer in one sentence. So insightful (sometimes frightful) these last words are. They encapsulate our part in the equation of discipleship.
“So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.” Luke 5:11
Lord, make us willing to be willing.
Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:
- What does the word disciple mean to you?
- What, if any, is the difference between a disciple and a church member?
- What, if any, is the difference between a disciple and a convert?
- What does it mean to “catch men?”
- Are all disciples called to the same mission to “catch men?” Why yes or no?
- Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: As long as I at least contribute financially to soul winning, I am fulfilling my mission in life. Explain your answer.
We close this week with one short sentence from Jesus. Let’s think about the wonderful promise contained in these words:
“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 16:25
Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!
I’ve Been Waiting For A While
Since the 1990s, we have been allowed some religious freedom and now have a few church buildings in China. One Adventist church is located near a large factory of an import/export business. The business owner is a friend of an Adventist church member, and the two women often talk together. One day the subject of faith came up and the Adventist shared her belief in God, the Bible, and what it means to be a Seventh-day Adventist.
The business woman was impressed and told her friend,
You have a good church. Your doctrines can really help people. Would you be willing to talk to my employees? The Adventist considered the invitation, but felt intimidated. All of the employees are non-believers, even atheists, she thought.
After some time, her friend brought it up again.
Hey, I’ve been waiting for a while. Why didn’t you send someone? The church member realized that this was an opportunity, and let the Adventist pastor know.
When he arrived at the factory, the owner invited the department heads to a meeting. The pastor spoke about Jesus and His teachings, and his presentation was well received.
This is a good message and can help our employees have a better, more positive life, the department heads told him.
Why don’t you come and speak to our employees?
A date was arranged and the pastor returned. About 60 employees came to the voluntary meeting, and the presentation was well received. The pastor accepted the invitation of the factory owner to give presentations to her employees every two weeks. After six presentations, the pastor invited the employees to accept Jesus as their Savior, and 30 responded with a
At Christmastime the Adventist church organized a big event for all 200 employees of the factory. The factory owner also invited other nearby companies to join them. When the other business owners came, they told the woman that they noticed her employees had changed.
After your employees believed in God, they seem very nice. We also want to encourage our employees to do the same. Now the Adventist pastor is meeting with the employees every Sunday evening. Additionally, the business woman owns other factories, and plans to start a similar program at the other locations.
Following the Christmas event, the business woman came to the Adventist church and attended the communion service. Her friend warmly welcomed her and encouraged her to continue coming. She plans to be baptized soon, along with 30 of her employees.
Lifting the cross cuts away self from the soul, and places man where he learns how to bear Christ’s burdens. We cannot follow Christ without wearing His yoke, without lifting the cross and bearing it after Him.
If our will is not in accord with the divine requirements, we are to deny our inclinations, give up our darling desires, and step in Christ’s footsteps.-Ellen G. White, Sons and Daughters of God, p. 69.
- Go back and look at the question at the end of Wednesday’s lesson, in regard to Luke 10:24. What are some of the things that we, living in this day and age, have been privy to witness that
many prophets and kingswould have liked to see but didn’t? What about, for example, the fulfillment of prophecies? Think about how much of Daniel 2:1-49, Daniel 7:1-8:27 were still in the future for many of those prophets and kings but are now historical facts for us. What else can you think of?
- Dwell more on the words of Jesus about someone gaining the whole world but losing one’s soul. What does He mean by that? Or what about losing one’s life in order to save it? What does that mean? It’s one thing for a nonbeliever to cling selfishly to the things of this world. Why not, because that’s all they believe that they have. What else would they cling to? But why, even as believers in Jesus, those who know that this world will end and a new one will one day start, do we find ourselves so readily seeking to gain as much of this world as we can? How can we protect ourselves from this very dangerous spiritual trap?
- Read Luke 10:17-20. One can understand the excitement of these people as they saw that even demons were subject to them in Christ’s name. Look at Jesus’ response to them. What was He saying that’s so important for anyone involved in outreach to understand?
- Who are some people, besides Bible characters, whose choice to follow Christ has cost them a lot, perhaps more than most of us? In class, ask yourselves,
What did these people lose, what did following Christ cost them, and would I be willing to do the same?
Socrates had Plato. Gamaliel had Saul. Leaders of various religions had their devout followers. The difference between discipleship in such cases and the discipleship of Jesus is that the former is based on the content of human philosophy, whereas the latter is rooted in the person and accomplishment of Jesus Himself. Thus, Christian discipleship rests not just on Christ’s teachings but also on what He did for human salvation.
Hence, Jesus bids all His followers to fully identify themselves with Him, to take up their cross, and to follow His leadings. Without people walking in the footprints of Calvary, there is no Christian discipleship.
Christian discipleship is an operative link between the saved and the Savior; as the saved, we are to follow the Savior. Thus Paul could say,
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me (Gal. 2:20, NIV).
The cost of discipleship is defined in Luke 9:23:
If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me (Luke 9:23, NKJV). Note these operative words:
take up, and
follow. When we read that Peter denied Jesus, we could not have a better definition of
deny. Peter was saying,
I do not know Jesus. So, when the call to discipleship demands that I deny myself, I must be able to say I do not know me; self is dead. In its stead, Christ must live (Gal. 2:20). Second, to take up the cross daily is a call to experience self-crucifixion on a continual basis. Third, to follow demands that the focus and direction of life is Christ and Him alone.
Jesus expands the cost of discipleship even further, as revealed in Luke 9:57-62: nothing takes precedence over Jesus. He, and He alone, stands supreme in friendship and fellowship, work and worship. In Christian discipleship, death to self is not an option; it is a necessity.
When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. . . . It is the same death every time-death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at his call. . . . Only the man who is dead to his own will can follow Christ.-Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1965), p. 99.
What has following Christ cost you? Think hard about your answer and the implications of it.
[Thought questions for The Call to Discipleship April 21, 2015]
Calling. How is being a disciple like being a fisherman? Did Jesus choose the disciples and then call them? Has Jesus chosen you? How do you know? What do you think is the main requirement in becoming a disciple of Jesus today? Maybe you came into this life and developed a weak and vacillating character. Doesn’t that disqualify you for discipleship? Why or why not?
- Fishing for people. If, like me, you’ve never caught a fish in your life and only tried a couple of times, can you ever learn to be a successful fisherman? Take on the following discussion question borrowed from the lesson guide: “Consider the miracle, the astonishment of the fishermen, the confession of Peter, and the authority of Jesus. What does each one of these accounts say about the path of discipleship?” Can you learn to be a disciple of Christ no matter what your background?
- Moving fast, selecting 12 leaders. Have you ever been surprised by how fast the story of Jesus’ life moves as presented in the gospels? Still young in His ministry, Jesus already faces the threat of losing his life. At the same time He is consolidating his leadership in a movement that will embrace the world for thousands of years to come. How did He choose these twelve men? If you were setting up a mission that would reach around the world, would you choose leaders whose education and experience were similar to those of the twelve apostles? What would matter most?
- Commissioning the apostles. After gathering the twelve together in one place, what two momentous tasks did Jesus give His disciples? Do you believe that all of Jesus’ children are called to preaching the gospel message and healing the sick? Does that mean we should all be preachers and evangelists or physicians and nurses? In whatever line of work we find ourselves, can we still promote healthful living and follow without hesitation the teachings of Scripture? If so, then are we apostles of Jesus?
- Sending the seventy. What was Jesus’ most important purpose of sending seventy people with a special mission? Could the same results have been accomplished with 40 leaders? Or should they have chosen 120? What effect do you think the grouping of the seventy people had on other new Christians? Did they notice? Were the thousands and, yes, millions or more of persons who gave their hearts to Jesus in the years to come a direct result of the labor of these seventy leaders in the early church?
- The cost of discipleship. Since Jesus gave Himself freely for us, why should it cost anything for us to give ourselves to Him? Should we consider that cost before we decide to follow Him? Why? How do you and I take up the cross every day to follow Jesus? Isn’t our purpose as Christians to be filled with happiness? How is it possible to sacrifice and yet be joyful? Is the cost of total surrender to Christ worth life with Jesus through eternity?
Read Luke 10:1-24. What does this account, of the sending out of the 70, teach us about the work of soul winning amid the reality of the great controversy?
During His ministry, more than 12 disciples followed Jesus.
When Peter addressed the believers leading to the selection of a substitute for Judas, the group consisted of at least 120 disciples (Acts 1:15). Paul tells us that Jesus had not less than 500 followers at His ascension (1 Cor. 15:6). So, the sending of the 70 does not limit the number of disciples that Jesus had but only suggests His choice of a special group on a limited mission to go before Him into the towns of Galilee and prepare the way for His subsequent visits.
Only the Gospel of Luke records the account of the 70, very typical of the missionary-minded Luke. The number 70 is symbolic in Scripture, as well as in Jewish history. Genesis 10 lists 70 nations of the world as descendants of Noah, and Luke was a writer with a universal worldview. Moses appointed 70 elders to assist him in his work (Num. 11:16-17, 24-25). The Sanhedrin was made up of 70 members. Whether all these have any significance in Jesus’ calling of the 70 is not mentioned in the Scripture and need not detain us in speculation. But what is important is that Jesus, as a trainer of leaders for the church, has left a strategy not to concentrate power and responsibility in a few but to spread it across the spectrum of disciples.
Joy and fulfillment marked the return of the 70. They reported to Jesus:
Even the demons are subject to us in Your name (Luke 10:17, NKJV). Success in soul winning is never the work of the evangelist. The evangelist is only a medium. The success comes through
Your name. The name and power of Jesus is at the heart of every successful gospel mission.
But note three remarkable reactions of Jesus to the success of the mission of the 70. First, in the success of evangelism, Jesus sees a defeat of Satan (Luke 10:18). Second, the more involved one is in gospel work, the more authority is promised (Luke 10:19). Third, the evangelist’s joy should be not in what has been accomplished on earth but because his/her name is written in heaven (Luke 10:20). Heaven rejoices and takes note of every person won from the clutches of Satan. Every soul won to the kingdom is a blow to Satan’s schemes.
Read again Luke 10:24. What are some of the things that we have seen that prophets and kings wanted to see but didn’t? What should that mean to us?
Key Thought : We cannot follow Christ without wearing the yoke, lifting the cross, and bearing it after Him. We are to step in Christ’s footprints.
[Lesson plan for The Call to Discipleship April 20, 2015]
1. Have a volunteer read Luke 9:23.
a. Ask class members to share a thought on what the most important point in this text is.
b. How do we deny ourselves and pick up our cross? What does this mean?
c. Personal Application: How do we follow Christ on a daily basis? If we are not doing what He would do, are we denying Him? Share your thoughts.
d. Case Study: One of your relatives states: “God loves us so much that He will never allow bad things to happen to us. Bad things happen as a result of our disobedience and need for correction.” How would you respond to your relative?
2. Have a volunteer read Luke 9:1-6.
a. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the most important point is in this passage.
b. Does Christ give us power and authority over devils today? What does this mean? Do you believe devils are active and working in people’s lives today?
c. Personal Application: How do we learn to work together with others in sharing the gospel? Don’t most people want to work alone? Share your thoughts.
d. Case Study: One of your friends states, “These were special men with a special call at a specific time. They were to go without money or jobs, they were to heal the sick and perform miracles. God doesn’t call us to do these things in the same manner with the same results.” How would you respond to your neighbor?
3. Have a volunteer read Luke 10:1-3.
a. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
b. What does the fact that Jesus commissioned seventy besides the twelve tell us about the call to ministry?
c. Personal Application: How has God called you? What ministry has He given you to serve Him with? Share your thoughts..
d. Case Study: One of your neighbors states, “What are some of the things we have witnessed that many prophets and kings would have loved to have seen and didn’t?” How would you respond to your friend?
4. Have a volunteer read Luke 10:16-20.
a. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
b. Why aren’t we to rejoice when we see victories over the devil?
c. Personal Application: How did Jesus say we are to feel when people hate and despise us for our faith? Share your thoughts.
d. Case Study: Think of one person who needs to hear a message from this week’s lesson. Tell the class what you plan to do this week to share with them.
(Note : “Truth that is not lived, that is not imparted, loses its life-giving power, its healing virtue. Its blessings can be retained only as it is shared.” MH p. 149.
Luke describes the commissioning of the apostles as a three-step process.
First, Jesus called them together (Luke 9:1). The word call or calling is as vital to Christian mission as it is to Christian vocabulary. Before it can become a theological term, it must become a personal experience. The apostles must heed the One who calls, come to Him, and be
together. Both the obedience to Him who calls and the surrender of everything to Him are essential to experience the unity that is essential for the mission to succeed.
gave them power and authority (Luke 9:1, NKJV). Jesus never sends His emissaries empty-handed. Nor does He expect us to be His representatives in our own strength. Our education, culture, status, wealth, or intelligence are powerless to accomplish His mission. It is Christ who enables, equips, and empowers. The Greek word for
power is dynamis, from which we derive
dynamo, a source of light, and
dynamite, a source of energy that can plow through a mountain. The power and authority that Jesus gives is sufficient to crush the devil and defeat his purposes. Jesus is our power.
As the will of man co-operates with the will of God, it becomes omnipotent. Whatever is to be done at His command may be accomplished in His strength. All His biddings are enablings.-Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 333.
sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick (Luke 9:2, NKJV). Preaching and healing go together, and the mission of the disciples is to care for the whole person-body, mind, and soul. Sin and Satan have captured the whole person, and the whole person must be brought under the sanctifying power of Jesus.
The life of discipleship can be maintained only when that life is totally given to Christ, with nothing coming in between. Neither gold nor silver, neither father nor mother, neither spouse nor child, neither life nor death, neither the contingencies of today nor the emergencies of tomorrow shall come between the disciple and Christ. Christ, His kingdom, and the witness to a lost world alone matter.
Take nothing for the journey (Luke 9:3, NKJV). What principle is expressed here that’s important for us to understand and to experience for ourselves?
Discipleship is not self-made. It is a result of responding to the call of Jesus. Luke mentions that Jesus has already called Peter, Andrew, John, and James (Luke 5:11, Matthew 4:18-22) and Levi Matthew, the tax collector (Luke 5:27-32).
Now the writer places the selection of the Twelve in a strategic location in his narrative: immediately after the Sabbath healing of a man with a withered hand (Luke 6:6-11), which led the Pharisees to plot the murder of Jesus. The Lord knew that it was time to consolidate His work and prepare a team of workers whom He could train and prepare for the task beyond the Cross.
Among the multitudes that followed Him, there were many disciples – ones who followed Him as students would follow a teacher. But Christ’s task is more than that of teaching. His was to build a community of the redeemed, a church that would take His saving message to the ends of the earth. For that purpose, He needs more than disciples.
From them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles (Luke 6:13, NKJV).
Apostle means someone sent with a special message for a special purpose. Luke uses the word six times in the Gospel and more than 25 times in Acts (Matthew and Mark use it only once each).
The Twelve were chosen not because of their education, economic background, social prominence, moral eminence, or anything that marked them as worthy of selection. They were ordinary men from ordinary backgrounds: fishermen, a tax collector, a Zealot, a doubter, and one who turned out to be a traitor. They were called for one purpose only: to be ambassadors of the King and His kingdom.
God takes men as they are, with the human elements in their character, and trains them for His service, if they will be disciplined and learn of Him. They are not chosen because they are perfect, but notwithstanding their imperfections, that through the knowledge and practice of the truth, through the grace of Christ, they may become transformed into His image.-Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 294.
Let’s face it: were not perfect, nor are others in the church perfect. We all are in a process of growing (even if others seem to grow more slowly than we would like them to!). How, in the meantime, do we learn to work with others and accept them as they are?
Simon and Andrew had toiled all night. Seasoned fishermen, they knew the art of fishing, and they knew when to quit. Nightlong work yielded nothing. In the midst of their disappointment came an unsolicited command:
Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch (Luke 5:4, NKJV).
Simon’s response was one of hopelessness and anguish:
We have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word . . . (Luke 5:5, NKJV).
Who is this carpenter counseling a fisherman about fishing? Simon could have turned away, but is it possible that Jesus’ comforting and authentic preaching earlier had some effect? Hence, the response:
nevertheless at Your word.
Thus, the first lesson of discipleship: obedience to Christ’s Word. Andrew, John, and James also soon learned that the long and fruitless night had given way to a bright and astonishing dawn, with a multitude of fish caught. At once, Peter fell to his knees and cried out:
Depart from me, for I am a sinful man (Luke 5:8, NKJV). Recognition of the holiness of God and the sinfulness of oneself is another essential step in the call to discipleship. As Isaiah had (Isaiah 6:5), Peter had taken that step.
Read Luke 5:1-11, Matthew 4:18-22, and Mark 1:16-20. Consider the miracle, the astonishment of the fishermen, the confession of Peter, and the authority of Jesus. What does each one of these accounts say about the path of discipleship?
Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men (Luke 5:10, NKJV). The transition from being fishermen to becoming fishers of men is extraordinary: it requires absolute self-surrender to the Master, recognition of one’s inability and sinfulness, a reaching out to Christ in faith for the strength to walk the lonely and unknown path of discipleship, and continual reliance on Christ and Him alone. The life of a fisherman is uncertain and dangerous, battling ruthless waves, unsure of a steady income. The life of a fisher of men is no less so, but the Lord promises,
Fear not. Discipleship is not an easy road; it has its ups and downs, its joys and challenges, but a disciple is not called to walk alone. The One who said
Fear not is by the side of the faithful disciple.
Go back and read again Peter’s confession about being a sinful man. Notice how his sinfulness prompted him to want to be separated from Jesus. What is it about sin that does that to us, that pushes us away from God?