Apostolic Council for the Messianic Community
Nominal, Part-Time, or Mature? Measuring Discipleship
I find that one of the most difficult tasks of a minister is teaching the people just what discipleship is. Beyond the favourite scriptural quotations, which can become clichés if not given some substance, most new believers have little idea what discipleship is and, if honest, have little desire to enter fully into its spirit. The Christian/Messianic world is full of part-time talmidim (disciples) and nominal talmidim (disciples); rarely does one find a truly 100% committed talmidim (disciples).
Talmidim (disciples), it is said, aren't born -- they're made. That's true. We are born with a weak, fleshy, rebellious nature which resists the inoculations of the Ruach (Spirit) to make us true talmidim (disciples).
I don't think you will find many people who love doctors when they give them injections, least of all children. No one likes a needle stuck up one's arm even if it's for our good. And there are few believers in my experience who like to be told the emet (truth) about their imperfect discipleship -- they would rather believe one of the popular untruths propagated by the more modern denominations which say that once you receive Yah'shua (Jesus) you are perfect, and that's all you need to worry about.
Today I come before this community as a doctor with a horribly big syringe to inject some life-saving truths which will be painful in the short-term. Sorry. And I doubt I shall be very popular. No apologies. Let's get on with the business of the hour...
What is a Disciple?
The English word 'disciple' comes from the Latin discipulus meaning 'a pupil' or 'a learner', and has the same meaning in the Hebrew and Greek equivalents (talmid and mathétés, respectively). In the ancient world the teacher-pupil relationship was a common feature -- today it isn't. Today it isn't because of the doctrine of individualism which has been pushed beyond the bounds established in the Bible. Encouraged by post-war liberalism and the New Age, everyone is now encouraged to 'fulfil their individual needs' by pursuing that which gives them the greatest enjoyment (as they suppose).
Every single one of you has enormous potential -- great skills, some known, some untapped. You are made in the image of Elohim (God) and, in the right circumstances, there is no reason why you shouldn't be able to develop all of them. I am constantly impressed by the skills of our own people, surprised by new discoveries all the time. Yahweh's children are truly a mine of gifts.
But we only have one short life and it is not possible to develop all of them. I was told when I was young that I had the talent to become a great architect. Others told me that my oratorial skills would have made me into a politician. Others said that my love of detail and my keen sense of observation would have made me into a good scientist. As I look back over my life I can see how it might have been possible to for me to go into any number of different careers and to have prospered.
Well I didn't. Though I loved drawing and designing houses like my father and grandfather before me (my grandfather was one of the architects to the King of England), I didn't. I chose to be a scientist. I trained at University to be a biochemist and could have gone into a career as a biochemist, but I didn't. I next trained to be a systems analyst and could have got a job in the business computer world, but I didn't. At one time I wanted to be a cartographer because I was skilled at drawing maps. I didn't. I got involved in politics once and caught the eye of the local party leadership who wanted to put me up as a candidate for the local council. Yahweh took me away from England before I could go down that road. Instead, I became a teacher. I've been teaching for many years and have enjoyed developing my skills. But now Yahweh has told me that I'm going to stop doing that soon and serve Him full-time in the ministry.
Now I'm telling you all these things not to blow my own trumpet because I'm really not at all interested telling you about my skills or interests. I have lots of interests like philately, chess, cartography, sketching, psychology, history, current affairs, and so on. I find them all fascinating. Or rather I did, for something has happened within me that has changed my whole perspective on personal interests. My soul has been completely reorientated. Now I have only one desire, and nothing else -- to serve My Master.
I've been a follower of the Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) since 1977 -- that's 40 years (2017). And in that time I've done alot of things -- interesting things. Many times I thought that what I was doing was serving Him when in truth I was just serving my own fleshy self-interest. Many times I tried to justify my self-interest by putting Kingdom labels on them. I really believed that my own interest was Yahweh's interest -- and I sincerely wanted to make them Yahweh's interest. But their origin was me, not Him. Just because He gives me the free agency to choose what I do doesn't mean that what gives me pleasure is necessarily what He wants me to do. Our own soulish joy so often masquerades as the true joy of the Ruach (Spirit).
A lot of you are going to find what I am saying disagreeable because if conflicts with cherished plans and desires. Sorry. But this work is not a collection of hobbyists and those with personal agendas. 'But we have our free agency!' you may protest. No you don't, not the way you think. You have the free agency to choose to follow the Messianic Evangelical Path or not. That's your choice.
The New Covenant Assemblies of Yahweh (NCAY) has a divine agenda. We have a program to complete, a mission to perform, and there's only one way we can do it. My calling -- my responsibility -- is to tell you what that mission is. It is my job to nudge you down an increasingly narrow way; so narrow will it become that you won't be able to carry anything personal anymore -- desires for careers, hobbies, interests, ambitions for wealth, etc.. With each passing day you will have shed more of that load of fleshy baggage that you're so used to carrying around with you. And sometimes you'll hate me for it. Sorry. But you were free to walk this Path, and are free to leave it whenever you want. I don't want any unwilling, murmuring camp followers. Those who come must come in emunah (faith), trust and ahavah (love), even though they don't understand...yet.
We are talmidim (disciples) of the Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) -- such is our profession in words if not always in deeds. To be a talmid (disciple) in its general sense means to accept the teaching of others. John the Baptist had talmidim (disciples) (Mt.9:14; Jn.1:35). The pharisees had talmidim (disciples) (Mk.2:18; Lk.5:33). Moses had talmidim (disciples) (Jn.9:28). When we use the term 'talmid' (disciple), we usually refer to following Yah'shua (Jesus) (Mt.10:42; Lk.6:17; Jn.6:66). But this is only the general sense of the word. Since Yah'shua (Jesus) departed, we are now talmidim (disciples) of His apostles (Mt.10:1; 11:1) who forsook all to follow Him.
There is a silly romantic notion about that to be a talmid (disciple) of Yah'shua (Jesus) is to follow Yah'shua (Jesus) and no one else. It's only a half-truth. The New Testament concept of discipleship says more. To follow Yah'shua (Jesus) is to following the authentic teachings of Yah'shua (Jesus) through the written Davar (Word) or Bible and those who have forsaken everything to follow Him, His apostles.
Don't misunderstand me -- I am not proposing that anyone follow a cultic leader and some far-out new, modern teaching. Yah forbid! You know me too well to know how throughout the years I have strongly warned against trusting in the arm-of-flesh. Neither I nor the apostolate bring any 'new' teaching; the apostles of today are the faithful custodians of the original apostolic witness which they obtained from the living Messiah. We teach what is in the Bible and fear to contradict it.
I am a talmid (disciple), by profession, of the Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). You, I trust, are talmidim (disciples) of Him too. In that respect, we all walk at the same spiritual height as sinners in need of daily repentance and renewal. There are no supermen or avatars in Yahweh's Assembly, and never will be. That's a New Age myth. But there are apostles, those called to teach the original doctrine of Messiah and to give up everything -- interests, hobbies, ambitions, careers -- to relay Elohim's (God's) Davar (Word). And those of us called to the apostolic office are your teachers or instructors, and have the right to your discipleship -- not because there is anything special or original in what we say or do (for as I have said, we are just as mortal as you), but because that is the authority which Elohim (God) has called us to exercise for your salvation.
My calling is to make you into talmidim (disciples) of the Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) by teaching you correct principles and doctrines. To do that you must, in a lesser sense, also become my talmidim (disciples), just as we are talmidim (disciples) of Peter, John, Paul and the other first apostles. Do we not follow their teachings? That makes us their talmidim (disciples)! Remember, that Elohim (God) has given to them the responsibility of judging the twelve tribes of Israel at the last day. That is how sacred the apostolic office is. The job of this modern apostolate, like our forbears, is to judge this tribe of New Israel.
Of Tin-Pot Dictators
I have often said that the Assembly of Yahweh is not a democracy. It never will be. It is a benevolent dictatorship. If it ever ceases to be benevolent, then it will become nothing but a tin-pot dictatorship, destined for the ash pile. And the tin-pot dictators will go the way of unquenchable fire. Well, I have no interest in unquenchable fire -- I've had enough fire in my life to say without the slightest hesitation that all I desire, when my time is up on earth, is to have Elohim's (God's) shalom (peace) in heaven!
All of you here in NCAY have been called to enter the refining fire of Elohim's (God's) Holy Order. Not all of you will make it that far because you will not wish to go the full way of discipleship. That will always be your freedom. You can stay where you are here you can climb higher. But if you climb higher, remember, that you will be required to sacrifice everything for the Kingdom.
So let me give you notice now -- if you have ambitions, pet projects you want to set up, desires to fulfil undiscovered skills and potential, forget it. The Holy Order does not exist to cater for personal appetites and desires -- its purpose is to make wholly consecrated talmidim (disciples) of the Master Yah'shua (Jesus) who are devoting themselves wholly for the Kingdom.
Choosing Right Marriage Partners
Sisters, what is your call? Your call is to be mothers and to sustain your husbands in the Kingdom work. You must sacrifice your personal desires. Brethren, what is your call? Your call is to be fathers and to give your all to the Kingdom. You must sacrifice your personal ambitions. Sisters, have you private dreams you wish to realise? If you have, don't marry a man who wants to give his all to Elohim (God) -- you will just pull him down and unnecessarily burden him.
Brethren, if you're 100 per cent committed to serving the Yahweh, don't marry a woman who isn't -- your life will be a nightmare of conflicting interests and you won't be able to serve Yahweh the way you want to. Sisters, do you want to serve Yahweh 100 per cent? Then don't marry a man who has worldly ambitions, even if they're disguised in churchy vocabulary. He will try take you away from your first love and compete for the position himself. Brethren, do you have worldly ambitions? Then don't marry a women who wants to give her whole life to Messiah -- you'll never get the egotistical worship your hearts crave, and you will be frustrated and embittered.
What if you're already married? If your spouse has given him- or herself 100 per cent to Yahweh, then you'd better follow suit or be prepared for an unhappy marriage. Because those of us who know the ahavah (love) of Elohim (God) wouldn't swop it for anything else. We might as well commit spiritual suicide! Maybe you don't understand -- that's OK -- we all take time to understand. If that's the case, then commit yourself to prayer and fasting and submit yourself to the will of Yahweh -- make that your highest priority. If you are a woman unable to give your heart 100 per cent to the Kingdom project, learn to be submissive to your husband and to follow his plans. That is, after all, why Yahweh made you. You were created to be a helpmeet, not an independent entity doing your own thing. And you husbands, if you are unable to give your heart 100 per cent to the Kingdom project, learn to be submissive to Elohim (God) and follow His will. That is, after all, why Yahweh made you. You were created to be His executive on earth, not an independent entity doing your own thing. You were created to be like the mortal Messiah, doing your Heavenly Father's bidding.
Temptations of the World
I say these things now to you, brethren and sisters, because I sometimes hear ominous rumblings -- job opportunities, business opportunities, etc.. The opportunities to fulfil long cherished dreams present themselves before you. For those of you called to the Messianic task, these may seem Yahweh-given, but I tell you most soberly, they are often temptations. Do you want your potential fulfilled? You should do! I do too! But you will never have the hunger fulfilled -- the hunger that lies beneath these desires -- unless you give your all to the King, the Kingdom and her Torot (Laws), because it is to the Kingdom that you have been called.
What does that mean in practice? For the brethren it means this -- forget your grandiose schemes to make millions for the Kingdom. You won't. Forget your desires for flashy cars and grand houses. You won't get them. Forget your sporting and hobby interests. You haven't time for them. So what should you be doing? Earning money for the basic necessities of life and no more until such a time as Yahweh calls you full time into the ministry. The rest of the time you should be fathering your children in the ways of Yahweh and serving Yahweh as witnesses in all the world.
For the sisters it means this -- forget your private enterprises to help your husband economically to live a lifestyle you are not called to unless there is a dire need. Forget your desires for fancy clothes, new furniture, businesses, hobbies and other interests. You haven't time for them. So what should you be doing? You should be supporting your husband in all he does. You should be being the best mother you can, organising your households and teaching your children the Besorah (Gospel) by word and by precept. You should be making your homes into temples of Elohim (God) by being better cooks, better home-makers, keeping them clean, being prepared to entertain strangers seeking after the Kingdom and to bear witness of the emet (truth).
OK, so some of you don't like this. I'm sorry, but if you had a full vision of the Kingdom of Elohim (God) -- the full presence of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) -- you would be thinking like this. And this -- and this alone - should cause your bosoms to swell with simcha (joy)! For I tell you most soberly, in the Name of Yahweh, that if your inability to find time to accomplish cherished interests beyond home and Kingdom is making you sad or depressed, then you have not been fully reborn in Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) but are being steered by the world's seductive but false philosophy.
You know, and I know -- in theory at any rate -- that the fleshy nature is constantly at war with the spiritual. But what you don't always understand is that the fleshy nature cleverly masquerades as the spiritual. Read through the Book of Job sometimes, because it contains nearly all the subtle devices used by the lower nature to appear reasonable and spiritual. As a member of the apostolate, one of my calls is to reveal this diabolical double-play of the flesh.
I've drawn the boundaries quite sharply for you today, and deliberately so. Main reason: we don't have time and more to play leap-frog over the doors Yahweh wants us to go through. So you choose -- today -- where you're going, please.
This Community -- this Covenant -- this people -- are on the move. Most of you sense it, I know. My job now, more than anything else, is to keep the Besorah (Gospel) train rolling. If you get off, you must accept the responsibility of your choice. My advice is that you stay on and hold tight, because miracles are about to happen! But if you get off the train, you'll never be a part of them, and never know what it is to finally become a mature talmid (disciple).
Let me spell it out again: Men -- seek the Kingdom first -- fulfil your call to be fathers, husbands and bread-earners -- get out of debt fast! Women: seek the Kingdom first! -- fulfil your call to be help your husbands in everything, be mothers, wives and home-makers -- don't idle your time away dreaming! Men and women: be busy about your Master's business.
And once you've done these well and have some spare time -- well, then I'll talk to you again! In the meantime, may Yahweh bless you as you seek to become 100 per cent talmidim (disciples) in the cause of Messianic Israel. Amen.
This page was created on 21 May 1998
Last updated on 24 January 2017
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