In the last post we began considering the activity of hearing the Word. Hearing the Word is the means that not only brings us to faith in Christ, initially it is the means that stimulates our faith to grow. If we do not hear the Word of God, there is no grace to grant us a faith that preserves and transforms us into Christ-likeness. Paul wrote to Timothy: “Devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, and to teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers,” (1 Timothy 4:13, 16). There is a facet of salvation tied to our hearing the Word of God read, exhorted and taught.
“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him, they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, [...]
Mark 15:1-20, which is one episode consisting of three scenes, recounts what led up to the decision to crucify Jesus. In between the events surrounding Jesus’ trial by the high priest and His crucifixion, is Pilate’s examination. While the Jewish ruling council declared Jesus to be guilty of blasphemy, they did not have the authority to crucify. The orders for crucifixion would need to come through Pilate, a regional governor representing the Roman Empire. While Pilate was no friend of the Jews, he would prove valuable to advance the high priest’s resolve.
We now begin to specifically think about the spiritual discipline of Bible intake. In this post we will begin considering the activity of hearing the Word of God. You may recall that Dr. Donald Whitney says the spiritual disciplines are, “those personal and corporate disciplines that promote spiritual growth.” The activity of hearing God’s Word shapes our progress in Christ-likeness.
Our opportunities to practice going do not hinge on the programs that we offer at church. They hinge on how we see the people around us—especially those who don’t know Christ. Do we see them as bad people to be avoided, or as troubled people to be shunned? Do we see them as confused people who need to be ridiculed? Do we see them as threatening people to be defeated? Part of our lack of desire to go is because we think those people are bad or troubled or confused or a threat to us.
Mark 14:43-72 details two of the episodes that most immediately precede Jesus’ crucifixion. The first episode (14:43-52), reports Jesus’ betrayal by Judas resulting in His seizure by armed men sent by the Jewish ruling council. The second episode (14:53-72), records Jesus’ trial before the high priest and members of the Jewish ruling council. Jesus’ trial is sandwiched in between Peter’s thrice denial. The unfolding of events from these episodes, to the end of Mark precisely follow Jesus’ previous prophetic announcement (10:33-34).
Dr. Donald Whitney, in his book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, says the spiritual disciplines are, “those personal and corporate disciplines that promote spiritual growth.” From our last post, I stressed the need to always be mindful of the purpose for pursuing spiritual disciplines: godliness. If in the practice of spiritual disciplines we forgot their purpose, then our disciplines deteriorate into a duteous drudgery-mere routines and empty habits; and yet, if in the practice of spiritual disciplines we treasure their purpose, then the exact same disciplines thrive by offering us paths for spiritual renewal and Christ-like transformation.
How do I know if I should reach out to someone or remain with them? Their baptism signifies their transition from Phase 1 to Phase 2. Once someone has been baptized, we don’t reach out to them anymore, because they’re now with us. Once they have incorporated themselves into the body, our calling shifts to remaining with them. You see, by virtue of the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the promise of his continued presence, the church exists to develop people who will reach out and remain with. In other words, the church exists to equip people to engage in both phases of disciple-making. When a person comes to Christ, and that person unites with a church, then he or she commits not only to being a disciple, but also to being a disciple-maker.
Mark 14:26-42 details the events in between the Passover meal with His disciples and Christ’s arrest. During the Passover meal, Christ announced His betrayal but also the arrangements for remembering His death. Christ would soon be arrested beginning His trials. This current segment takes place late Thursday evening and into the early hours of Friday—it is one episode with two scenes. The first scene (14:26-31) reports the conversation that Jesus had with His disciples as they departed from the room where they had celebrated the Passover. The second scene (14:32-42), at Gethsemane, records Jesus’ deep struggle in prayer contrasted with the disciples’ drowsiness.
In the last post we started talking about spiritual disciplines. Dr. Donald Whitney, in his book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, says the spiritual disciplines are, “those personal and corporate disciplines that promote spiritual growth.” We will begin to explore just two: Bible intake and prayer.
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