Saturday, March 15, 2014

Discipling Spiritual Leaders

Discipling Spiritual Leaders

We have determined that the word disciple in the context of the lesson means learner and follower of Christ.  What is Spiritual?  Anything not of the flesh.  What is a leader?  According to the dictionary it is someone that goes ahead of anyone else; a guide or conductor.  The word leader comes from and old English words that means to go.  This would imply that a leader goes ahead.  A leader knows where he taking everyone else.  Thus a spiritual leader is one that not only is a spiritual model, he has been led to Christ and follows Him.  They can say as Paul says,

1Corinthians 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

Paul was qualified to lead by his inclination to follow.  By this definition a spiritual leader is a disciple.  The word discipling is used in the lesson as making disciples.  You cannot make something into something it already is.  So, the title is misleading.  The idea seems to be to make leaders out of followers.  The best leaders identify with their followers.  Hence, the best leaders are followers themselves. 

Christ identified with us.  Paul says in Hebrews 4:15,


Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.


This high Priest, of course is Jesus, whom God sent “…in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh…” (Romans 8:3).   If Jesus as our leader identified with us, then we as leaders should identify with those that follow us.  A leader that fails to empathize with his followers is not spiritual.  And, unfortunately, the church is full of those.  This has been the case historically.  Let us read the next quote how this point is brought out by contrasting the Apostles with the leaders in Christ time,


The work of Jesus was to reveal the character of the Father, and to unfold the truth which He Himself had spoken through prophets and apostles; but there was found no place for the truth in those wise and prudent men. Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, had to pass by the self-righteous Pharisees, and take his disciples from unlearned fishers and men of humble rank. These who had never been to the rabbis, who had never sat in the schools of the prophets, who had not been members of the Sanhedrin, whose hearts were not bound about with their own ideas,--these He took and educated for His own use. He could make them as new bottles for the new wine of His kingdom. These were the babes to whom the Father could reveal spiritual things; but the priests and rulers, the scribes and Pharisees, who claimed to be the depositaries of knowledge, could give no room for the principles of Christianity, afterward taught by the apostles of Christ. The chain of truth, link after link, was given to those who realized their own ignorance, and were willing to learn of the great Teacher. {5BC 1088.9}


The Priests, the Pharisees, and other leading men looked down on the people and have stripped them of any hope for salvation.  Christ undid that.  So, Christ had to choose men who would be willing to be transformed to His likeness. The leaders of the established church in Jesus’ time would not allow Christ to disciple them.  This held the people back in accepting Jesus.  Ellen White states,


The interest of the people in Christ and His work had steadily increased. They were charmed with His teaching, but they were also greatly perplexed. They had respected the priests and rabbis for their intelligence and apparent piety. In all religious matters they had ever yielded implicit obedience to their authority. Yet they now saw these men trying to cast discredit upon Jesus, a teacher whose virtue and knowledge shone forth the brighter from every assault. They looked upon the lowering countenances of the priests and elders, and there saw discomfiture and confusion. They marveled that the rulers would not believe on Jesus, when His teachings were so plain and simple. They themselves knew not what course to take. With eager anxiety they watched the movements of those whose counsel they had always followed. {DA 611}


This hold that the leaders had on the masses had to be undone.  “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).  Ellen White illustrates how this was done,


After the descent of the Holy Spirit, the disciples were so filled with love for Him and for those for whom He died, that hearts were melted by the words they spoke and the prayers they offered. They spoke in the power of the Spirit; and under the influence of that power, thousands were converted.

As Christ's representatives the apostles were to make a decided impression on the world. The fact that they were humble men would not diminish their influence, but increase it; for the minds of their hearers would be carried from them to the Saviour, who, though unseen, was still working with them. The wonderful teaching of the apostles, their words of courage and trust, would assure all that it was not in their own power that they worked, but in the power of Christ. Humbling themselves, they would declare that He whom the Jews had crucified was the Prince of life, the Son of the living God, and that in His name they did the works that He had done (The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 21-24).


How effective was the work of the apostles?  Many of the leading men who once rejected Christ joined the ranks of believers (Acts 6: 7).  But, the Lord spoke of also of a latter rain.  Ellen White speaks of that day by saying that as a farmer's crops need rain if the harvest is to come, so the Latter Rain is to ripen the "grain" and prepare "for the sickle." This is "the completion of the work of God's grace in the soul ... that prepares the church for the coming of the Son of man" (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 506).  Used by the Holy Spirit humble brethren will preach the Gospel in word and deed; in truth and Spirit.  Among those converted will be leaders who before – albeit unknowingly - rejected Christ. Christ exalted – lifted up – in the believer will draw others to Him.  

Raul Diaz

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