What If We Somehow Missed Some of the Most Important Things?

Sometimes we get questions as to what we are trying to accomplish as a church at His Words His Ways Fellowship. After all, in our immediate culture and context, there are a multitude of Bible-believing, Bible-teaching, Evangelical churches.
 
Why would we attempt to start another one?
 
Moreover, some of the things that we say and write can seem to be challenging and/or condemning to other believers and churches in the area. 
 
But, our purpose at His Words His Ways Fellowship is not to condemn, insult, or attack other believers, churches, or pastors.
 
Our purpose is simply to teach and obey the truth as found in Scripture.
 
Given that purpose, we would like to suggest that if we claim as Evangelicals to believe that everything in Scripture is true, that everything in Scripture should be taught, and that everything taught in Scripture should be obeyed; then there are some very important scriptural principles that are not being taught and/or obeyed in our immediate culture and context.
 
Furthermore, we would like to invite Evangelicals who claim to believe that everything in Scripture is true, that everything in Scripture should be taught, and that everything taught in Scripture should be obeyed; to look up the scriptural support provided for these principles in order to determine if they are true; and then to also ask themselves if these principles have been well-taught and are therefore well-known in our immediate culture and context.
 
And if these principles are not well-taught and well-known; then why not?
 
What is stopping us from teaching and knowing these principles that are clearly taught in Scripture?
 
Because, if we are correct about these principles; then some of the most important scriptural truths as to what it means to follow and imitate Jesus as His disciples are not being taught in our churches.
 
Moreover, if these principles do explain what we are to be doing as churches, why we are to be doing it, and how we are to be doing it; then our failure to teach them might explain why we are struggling to accomplish anything of consequence in our current culture and context.
 
Please ask yourself the following few questions and consider the scriptural support for the principles that we feel best answer the questions.
 
(You might also use these sample questions and answers to determine if these scriptural principles are being taught and are known in our immediate culture and context):
 
Question #1: What is the ultimate end goal of the Gospel?
 
Multiple choice answers:
 
  1. To save men’s souls from the penalty of their sins which is damnation and eternal separation from God in Hell.
  2. For God to re-establish and have a correct relationship with men.
  3. For men to bring glory to God by being re-conformed to the image of God that they were originally created to be.
  4. To usher in the Kingdom of God on Earth by establishing His justice and equality.
  5. To reward men who have served God with a peaceful existence in eternal paradise.

 

While each answer has some truth to it, #s 1, 2, 4, and 5 are a result of #3, which is the ultimate end goal of the Gospel.
 
First Principle: The Image of God as the Basis of Discipleship. The ultimate goal of the Gospel is that men bring glory to God by being re-conformed to the image of God that they were originally created to be (Genesis 1:27, 1 Corinthians 11:7, Matthew 5:48, 2 Corinthians 3:18, Ephesians 4:22-24, 5:1, Colossians 3:9-10, 2 Peter 1:4).
 
The best scriptural support for this first principle:
 
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:26-27).
 
A man […] is the image and glory of God (1 Corinthians 11:7).
 
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
 
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:18).
 
You have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator (Colossians 3:9-10).
 
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24).
 
Therefore be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1)
 
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48).
 
 
Question 2: How are believers conformed to the image of Jesus?
 
Multiple choice answers:
 
  1. From the inside out, through the mysterious power of the Holy Spirit.
  2. By devoting themselves to the Apostles’ teachings and to the fellowship of the saints.
  3. By being resurrected from the dead and entering into a heavenly paradise.
  4. By studying, memorizing, and obeying Scripture.
  5. By imitating Jesus (who is the perfect image of God) as His disciple (through the power of the Holy Spirit)

 

The answer best supported by Scripture is #5.
 
Second Principle: The Purpose of Imitating Jesus as His Disciple. The goal of men being re-conformed to the image of God is accomplished by men imitating Jesus (who is the perfect image of God) as His disciple; through the empowerment and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:29, 1 Corinthians 11:1, 15:49, 2 Corinthians 4:4, Galatians 2:20, Philippians 2:1-5, 3:7-11, Colossians 1:15, 1:28-29, 2:2-3, 2:9-10, 1 Thessalonians 1:6, 2 Timothy 3:12,Titus 3:4-6, Hebrews 1:3, 6:1, 12:1-3, James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 1:1-4, 2-21, 2 Peter 3:18, 1 John 2:6, 3:3, 4:17).
 
The best scriptural supports for this second principle are:
 
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being (Hebrews 1:3).
 
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son (Romans 8:29).
 
Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).
 
And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man (1 Corinthians 15:49).
 
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4).
 
Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did (1 John 2:6).
 
 
Question # 3: What is the best way for new disciples to initially learn to imitate Jesus as His disciple?
 
Multiple choice answers:
 
  1. By studying Scripture and praying daily.
  2. By going to church on a regular basis.
  3. By knowing and keeping the words, teachings, commands, and example that Jesus gave during His earthly ministry as recorded in the Gospels.
  4. By learning to follow the prompting and guiding of the of the Holy Spirit.
  5. By devoting themselves to the Apostles’ teachings and to the fellowship of the saints.

 

Again, #s 1, 2, 4, and 5 would be a result of answer #3.
 
Third Principle: The First Century, Biblical Understanding of Discipleship. Imitating Jesus as His disciple begins (but does not end) with specifically learning and then keeping the words, teachings, commands, and example that He gave during His earthly ministry. It is simply impossible to imitate someone without knowing what they said and did (Matthew 7:24-29, 10:24-25, 11:25-30, 12:41-42, 13:16-17, 13:34-35, 17:5, 24:35; Mark 4:24-25, 4:33-34, 6:34, 8:38, 9:7, 13:31; Luke 6:46-49, 9:35, 10:24, 10:38-42, 11:31-32, 17:10, 19:47-48,  John 3:31-36, 4:25-26, 4:40-42, 5:24, 5:38-39, 5:46-47, 6:28-29, 6:63, 6:66-69, 8:31-32, 8:51, 9:26, 10:27, 12:48, 13:34-35, 14:12, 14:15, 14:23-26, 15:7-17, 15:20-24, 16:6-8).
 
The best scriptural support for this principle (please notice that Jesus specifically references the words that He spoke during His earthly ministry):
 
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24).
 
“There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day” (John 12:48).
 
“Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you (John 14:23-26).
 
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, […] teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you(Matthew 28:19-20).
 
John the Apostle also wrote:
 
We know that we have come to know [Jesus] if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did (1 John 2:3-6).
 
 
Question # 4: What is the best environment in which to learn to imitate Jesus as His disciple? (This is the one they are most likely to get).
 
Multiple choice answers:
 
  1. By studying Scripture and praying at home alone.
  2. By attending Sunday morning worship service.
  3. By participating in a relational small group/Bible study that meets together to encourage one another and study Scripture together.
  4. By doing life together with other believers outside of church.

 

While all of these will contribute to growth as a disciple, answer #3 is the method that Jesus and His Apostles specifically modeled during His earthly ministry.
 
Fourth Principle: Biblical Discipleship in a Relational Environment (Relational Discipleship). Being conformed to the image of Jesus by imitating Him as His disciple is not a passive process, but an active/interactive process that occurs within a relational environment; which was established and demonstrated by Jesus during His earthly ministry (Mark 3:31-34, Mark 4:33-34, Acts 2:42-47, 1 Corinthians 14:40, 2 Timothy 2:2).
 
The best scriptural support for this fourth principle:
 
With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything (Mark 4:33-34).
 
Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! (Mark 3:31-34).
 
And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others (2 Timothy 2:2).
 
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts (Acts 2:46).
 
 
Again, our purpose at His Words His Ways Fellowship is not to condemn, insult, or attack other believers, churches, or pastors in the area.
 
But we would like to challenge believers, churches, and pastors to ask themselves those questions above and then also these following questions:
 
“If Scripture clearly teaches these four principles, and as Bible-believing Evangelicals we believe that we should teach and obey everything in Scripture; then why are these four principles not being taught in our churches?”
 
“Is it because it would be too uncomfortable and inconvenient for ourselves and our churches to teach these things?”
 
“Is it perhaps that we are reluctant to teach them simply because they haven’t been taught in our churches before?”
 
“Is it that we are reluctant to teach them because we didn’t come up with them?”
 
“Are those really logical reasons not to teach in our churches what Scripture so clearly teaches?”
 
“What is it that we find so much more important and pressing to be taught instead?”
 
“If these principles really explain what we are supposed to be doing, why we are supposed to be doing it, and how we are supposed to be doing it; might our failure to teach them also explain why as churches we are struggling to impact the culture around us in a significant way?”
 
 
“What if we somehow missed some of the most important things taught in Scripture?”
 
 
To learn more about these four principles and why it is so imperative that we be and make disciples of Jesus, start here and follow the links at the end of each article:
 

The Explicit “Why” and “How” of Being a Disciple of Jesus…