CONTINUATION: THE SECONDARY ROLE OF THE EKKLESIA
5. Discipleship and sanctification are thus the simple outworking of worship and faith. We obey because we love our Father and King. We want to honor the One we serve. We want to be like our Father. We want to please our God now as he will be pleased in the age to come. We are living out our lives in reverent fear of the Day of the Lord.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without grumbling or questioning, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. (ESV Philippians 2:12-16)
See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” (cf. Hag. 2:6)… 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.” (cf. Deut. 4:24) (NIV Hebrews 12:25-29)
C. Jesus exhorts his disciples to servanthood, meekness and love because they will reign in a real government on the earth. The modern Church generally disregards discipleship and sanctification because immaterial “heaven” has no real government to prepare for.
And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”… 24 A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest (in the coming Kingdom). 25 And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them (function selfishly in government), and those in authority over them are called benefactors (hypocritically give lip service to benevolent governance). 26 But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves (for the well-being of those governed). 27 For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves (modeling messianic governmental character). 28 You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, 29 and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom (i.e. co-government within the Kingdom), 30 that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (ESV Luke 22:15-30)
- Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ 26 But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. (NLT Luke 22:25-26)
1. Jesus taught his disciples how to pray. Their first response is worship, expressed in earnest expectation of the Kingdom. In light of this, they are taught to pray for grace to walk in holiness and blamelessness in preparation for that Kingdom.
Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread (cf. vv.19-34), 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. 14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (ESV Matthew 6:9-15)
2. Jesus models the righteous governance of the coming age before his death by taking on the role of the lowest servant.
It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love… 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power (“authority” NLT)… 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet (the job of the lowest servant/slave), drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you (as Messiah) going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later (in the messianic kingdom) you will understand.” 8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me (cf. inheritance in the Kingdom).”… 12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord’, and rightly so, for that is what I am (i.e. Messiah). 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example (of messianic governmental character) that you should do as I have done for you… 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed (in the coming messianic kingdom) if you do them.” (NIV John 13:1-17)
- Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God (governmentally, cf. v. 11) as something to be exploited, 7 but emptied himself (governmentally), taking the form of a slave (for the well-being of the whole), being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death– even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God also highly exalted him (governmentally) and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend (in the Kingdom), in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (NRSV Philippians 2:3-11)
3. The apostles likewise exhort and model servanthood, meekness and humility in preparation for the Kingdom.
To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings (i.e. benefits/rewards in the Kingdom). 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize (resurrection and authority). 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training (cf. discipleship/sanctification). They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (NIV 1 Corinthians 9:22-27)
When I was with you, I certainly gave you proof that I am an apostle. For I patiently did many signs and wonders and miracles among you. 13 The only thing I failed to do, which I do in the other churches, was to become a financial burden to you. Please forgive me for this wrong! 14 Now I am coming to you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you (for my own well-being). I don’t want what you have– I want you. After all, children don’t provide for their parents. Rather, parents provide for their children (assuming parents function in benevolent government). 15 I will gladly spend myself and all I have for you, even though it seems that the more I love you, the less you love me… 19 Perhaps you think we’re saying these things just to defend ourselves. No, we tell you this as Christ’s servants, and with God as our witness. Everything we do, dear friends, is to strengthen you. (NLT 2 Corinthians 12:12-19)
As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, 7 but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children… 9 Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. 10 You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God (in preparation for the Kingdom), who calls you into his kingdom and glory. (NIV 1 Thessalonians 2:6-12)
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. (ESV 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)
4. It is the real governance of the age to come, and the righteousness and reward therein, that is a primary motivator of the human heart. The lack of a real government and real rewards in an ethereal “heaven” is one of the main reasons for the lack of discipleship and sanctification in the church today.
Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” 15 When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” (NIV Luke 14:12-15)
Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again… 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. 32 Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. (NIV Acts 20:25-32)
The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor… 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. (NIV 1 Corinthians 3:8-14)
God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption (“destruction” NIV, i.e. Gehenna), but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life (“everlasting life” NKJV/NLT, i.e. resurrection). 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (ESV Galatians 6:7-9)
Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (NIV Colossians 3:22-24)
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage– with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths… 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day– and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (NIV 2 Timothy 4:1-8)