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     We’ll be taking a very basic look at some discipleship principles found in God's word. I believe that many of you will find we share several of the same beliefs when it comes to foundational belief principles, three of which we'll be focusing on here: Faith, Practice (
or Studying), and Obedience.

     It's widely accepted that Moses was the inspired author who wrote the
first five books of the Bible and I find it necessary to start from the beginning.
These five books are: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

     And, the first four words of the Bible are:
“In the beginning God...” Regarding FAITH, many people throughout
the world are familiar with that well known phrase. Discipleship as a
Christian demands first, and foremost, faith. Faith that God IS. Secondly,
and equally important, it is necessary to have faith that the Holy Bible is
God's inspired message to man as a sinful, fallen creature; this includes you,
me, the person next to you, your Mother, Father, Brother, Sister...we all fit
into the same category: fallen and sinful. Basically this comes down to a
simple choice - to believe these things or to not believe them. This "belief" is
the substance or evidence of your faith, my faith, our faith. Whether you
have chosen to believe that God is who He says He is or not is evidence of
your own level of faith.

     Have you ever wondered, as I suspect many of us do/have, why some people seem to have a "better" or "more spiritual" walk than we ourselves do? I absolutely believe that some people have a deeper or more mature level of
faith because they’ve embraced these three basic principles of "Faith,
Practice, and Obedience" in their lives.

     True faith, at its core, will always produce the other two principles and none of the three can exist in a way that is pleasing to God without the other two. We find in Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him."

     Ultimately, faith is always a choice. If you doubt that, then study the
miracles recorded in God's word where individuals were themselves not only
recipients OF the miracle, but also participants IN the miracle.

     For instance, the blind man Jesus made to see in John 9:1-11, who, when
questioned by the people who commonly knew him to be blind, responded
that he had “received” his sight. The account doesn’t record his faith coming
into action at all, but that he was merely the recipient of the miracle.

     And, on the other hand, in John 5:1-10, the lame man Jesus made to
walk showed his faith by obeying Jesus’ command to “Stand up, pick up
your mat, and walk!” This was clearly an exercise, or “practice”, of faith as evidenced by his obedience.

     And, in Acts 3:1-16, another man lame from birth made to walk by
God using Peter on his way up to the Temple with John. As Peter told the
man, “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have, give I thee: In the
name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” This was another
example of a miracle of merely receiving because the Bible records that Peter
“took him by the right hand and lifted him up”.

     Another really great example of faith being exercised was the woman with the issue of blood, found in Luke 8:43-48. This woman believed that by simply TOUCHING the border; or hem, of the Lord’s garment she might be healed.  She exercised that belief and was healed. At the end of the encounter, Jesus said to her “Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.”

     We could go on and on, like the centurion whose servant was sick and
healed because of his (the centurion’s) faith, or when Peter climbed out of the
boat and began to walk to Jesus (at least initially) on the water, these also
were choices to believe. So, faith pleasing to God is a choice.

     Practice (or Studying) is the second principle and can, on the one hand,
begin with mere curiosity or a true heartfelt desire to understand what God's
word says. This also, is a choice.

     A great example is the account of the Eunuch in Acts 8:26-40: his
desire to understand God's word led to his salvation and baptism. When
Phillip explained to him about the passage he was reading, he coupled his
studying with his faith and thereby produced the obedience necessary to
please God. But studying isn't only reading and trying to decipher God's
word to gain understanding. It is also daily studying your own heart, your
motivations for or behind the things you do. This is where Study becomes
Practice. This is where Faith blends with Practice and produces our next
topic:  Obedience.

     Obedience is just that ... obedience to what you've had revealed to you
through the Word speaking to you through what you read and through
applying it to your heart. In I Samuel 15:20-22 we find the account of the
first king of Israel; King Saul, choosing to keep Agag; king of the Amalekites,
alive and taking the plunder from the battle, rather than obeying God’s
command to destroy everything. Samuel’s response, in v.22, was basically
“Hath the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the
voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice and to hearken
than the fat of rams.”  So, “To obey is better than sacrifice” isn't just a clever
saying ... it's given to us as a guide and as a reminder that God doesn't need
our sacrifices of money, or our effort, or even of our time. He desires us to be
like Himself. That is the whole purpose for which He created us - to be like
He is and show His glory to a lost and hell bound world. The ONLY way to
do that is to OBEY.

     When you practice these three principles, you become conformed to
the image of Christ; as we find in Romans 8:28-29 “And we know that all
things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the
called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did
predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the
firstborn among many brethren.”

     The combination of  FAITH, PRACTICE, & OBEDIENCE  is what
produces a spiritual walk that others see, wonder about, and are attracted to,
thereby bringing glory to God and holiness to the believer whose spiritual
walk is built on these principles. As we find in Hebrews 12:14 “Follow peace
with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:”

     In closing for this first article on Discipleship, I'd like to note a few scriptures about discipleship and then share something that we all should be made aware of:

        Deuteronomy 6:6-7 “ And these words, which I command thee this day,

shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy

children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and

when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when

thou risest up.”

        Proverbs 22:6 “ Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he

is old, he will not depart from it.”

        Matthew 28:18-20 “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All

power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and

teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the

Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things

whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always,

even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

     My wife Trini and I, along with our three beautiful daughters; Jasmin, Laura, & Alex, have actively participated in Northview Baptist (and particularly in the lives of Northview’s youth) since we first came here almost 4 years ago. This is where we feel God’s leading in our life together. I’ve chosen to offer our service to Northview in the capacity of Youth Pastor, and family, and have been warmly welcomed by our Northview family. It is our sincere desire to be used to affect Eternity for the cause of Christ. May God bless each person who reads this and may that blessing extend to each family member of the reader. 

Pastor Larry Powell

Discipleship 101