8 Reasons Why Obedience to God Is Important

8 Reasons Why Obedience to God Is Important

1. Jesus Calls Us to Obedience: If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (John 14:15, ESV)

2. Obedience Is an Act of Worship: And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. (Romans 12:1, NLT)

3. God Rewards Obedience: Jesus replied, “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.” (Luke 11:28, NLT) But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. (James 1:22–25, NLT)

4. Obedience to God Proves Our Love: By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. (1 John 5:2–3, ESV)Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning. (2 John 6, NLT)

5. Obedience to God Demonstrates Our Faith: And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did. (1 John 2:3–6, NLT)

6. Obedience Is Better Than Sacrifice: But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshipping idols. So because you have rejected the command of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.” (1 Samuel 15:22–23, NLT)

7. Disobedience Leads to Sin and Death: For as by the one man’s [Adam’s] disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s [Christ’s] obedience the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:19, ESV)For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:22, ESV)

8. Through Obedience, We Experience the Blessings of Holy Living: Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the LORD. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths. You have charged us to keep your commandments carefully. Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees! Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands. As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should! I will obey your decrees. Please don’t give up on me! (Psalm 119:1–8, NLT)This is what the LORD says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow. Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea. Your descendants would have been like the sands along the seashore—too many to count! There would have been no need for your destruction, or for cutting off your family name.” (Isaiah 48:17–19, NLT)

Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God. (2 Corinthians 7:1, NLT)


**By Fairchild, Mary. “Why Is Obedience to God Important?” Learn Religions, Aug. 28, 2020, learnreligions.com/obedience-to-god-701962.

Be Anointed With the Holy Spirit and Power

Acts 2 we find that when those 120 people waited for the Holy Spirit, they did not know how long they would have to wait, because Jesus never told them. If they knew it would be only ten days, it would have been easier for them to wait. When God keeps us waiting for something, He does not usually tell us how long we have to wait for an answer.

God wants us to live by faith, because that is the only way to grow spiritually – and waiting is one way by which our faith is strengthened. If we knew how long we had to wait, then there would be no faith there. It is only afterwards when we look back that we can say, “I had to wait for three days (or three years)” for that.

If you had gone to those waiting disciples and asked them, “How will you know when you have been baptised in the Holy Spirit?” – They would not have said that they would speak in tongues. They would have said that Jesus had told them that they would receive power. You may ask “How will I know that I have received this power?” God can assure us of that, just like He assured us that our sins were forgiven. The Holy Spirit, Who bears witness with our spirit that our sins have been forgiven will also bear witness that we have been endued with power. Ask God to give you the assurance for both these important matters. So they were waiting for power. But when they got power they also received the gift of speaking in unknown languages (tongues).

The tragedy today is that many who claim to have the gift of tongues do not seem to have any power. Tongues can be imitated, whereas power to overcome sin and to be a bold witness for Christ cannot be imitated.

Consider this illustration: You go to a shop to buy a computer (power). The shopkeeper tells you that a free CD (tongues) is also being offered with every computer. You didn’t go to the shop to buy a CD but a computer. But since the CD is being offered freely, you take both the computer and the CD. But now your friend sees your CD and goes to the same shop and pays for the computer but brings home only the free CD!! How foolish! That is a picture of those who received the gift of tongues but not the power.

We read that a noise and a wind filled the house where they were praying and tongues as of fire rested on everyone’s head. These were only the externals. The receiving of an anointing and power were the major events. The externals were different when Jesus was anointed. In His case, there was no wind or fire but a dove and a voice. But the power and anointing He received were the same as these apostles received. We all need to be “anointed with the Holy Spirit and power” as Jesus was (Acts 10:38).

The physical and emotional experiences may vary with each of us. If someone were to give you an expensive diamond as a gift, it wouldn’t make any difference if it came wrapped crudely in ordinary brown paper or in a shiny paper with fancy ribbons? It is the gift inside that is important. Only babies are taken up with the wrappings, the externals – the wind, the fire, the noise, the tingling sensations, etc. Adults are taken up with the gift – the anointing and the power of the Holy Spirit. When people testify about and glory in the wrapping in which they got the gift, you know that they are still baby-Christians.

The tongues of fire that sat on everyone’s heads indicated that the most important part of our body that God would be using in the new covenant age would be the tongue – a tongue set on fire by the Holy Spirit and under His total control all the time. This is also part of the symbolism of the gift of tongues. God wants to use your tongue to bless others with, not only if you are a preacher, but also in your ordinary conversations with people every day. But for this, you must let the Holy Spirit have full control of your speech, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In 2:14, we see one wonderful result of the Spirit indwelling all the apostles. We read here, “Peter stood up, backed by the other eleven” (MSG).

What Jesus could not accomplish in His entire lifetime is now accomplished at last: The twelve are all one body now. They did not compete to have the honour to preach. They supported Peter and were 100% behind him as he spoke. This is the greater work that Jesus had said they would do after the Spirit came – the Holy Spirit had baptised them into one body.

In 2:17, Peter said that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was the fulfilment of the prophecy of Joel. All men and women could now have the Spirit poured out on them and they could prophesy. This was a privilege reserved only for kings and priests under the old covenant. But under the new covenant, all can receive the Spirit. We need to recognise what a tremendous honour this is.

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** Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author at CFC India.com / Photo by Jahoo Clouseau at Pexels

Sovereignty of God

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
~ Isaiah 55:8-9

The total sovereignty of God over all people and circumstances, is a matter concerning which many believers remain in doubt. They may give lip-acknowledgment to it, but they don’t believe it “works” in the situations of daily life. Yet the Scriptures are full of examples of how God worked sovereignly on behalf of His people – and often in the most unlikely ways.

Many of us are familiar with the obviously miraculous ways in which God worked on behalf of His people – such as the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt etc. But we have often missed seeing the greater miracles by which God turned the tables on Satan when Satan attacked God’s people.

The case of Joseph is a classic. God had a plan for that eleventh son of Jacob to make him the second ruler in Egypt by the time he was thirty. Joseph was a God-fearing lad and therefore he was hated by Satan. And so Satan instigated his elder brothers to get rid of him. But God ensured that they didn’t take Joseph’s life. They managed, however, to sell him off to some Ishmaelite traders. But where do you think those traders took Joseph? To Egypt, of course! 

That was the fulfilment of Step One in God’s plan! In Egypt, Joseph was bought by Potiphar. This too was arranged by God. Potiphar’s wife was an evil woman. Taking a fancy to Joseph, she tried to entice him again and again. Finally when she found that she could not succeed, she accused Joseph falsely and had him cast in jail. But who do you think Joseph met in the jail? Pharaoh’s cupbearer! God had arranged for Pharaoh’s cupbearer also to be jailed at the same time so that Joseph could meet him. That was Step Two in God’s plan. 

God’s third step was to allow Pharaoh’s cupbearer to forget about Joseph for two years. “Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him. It happened at the end of two full years that Pharoah had a dream…. Then the chief cupbearer spoke to Pharaoh…(Genesis 40:2341:1,9). That was the time, according to God’s time-table, for Joseph to be released from prison. Psalm 105:1920 says, “Until the time that His word came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him. Then the king sent and released him and set him free.” Joseph was now 30 years old. 

God’s time had come. And so God gave Pharaoh a dream. And God reminded the cupbearer also of Joseph as the interpreter of his dream. Thus Joseph came before Pharaoh and became the second ruler in Egypt. God’s timing of events in Joseph’s life couldn’t have been more perfect! We would never have thought of arranging things the way God did. If we had the power to plan Joseph’s life, we would probably have prevented people from doing him any harm. But the way God did it was better. It’s a far greater miracle when the evil that people do to us is turned to fulfill God’s purposes for us! God takes great delight in turning the tables on Satan, so that all things work together for the good of His elect.

Let us look at one more example from the Old Testament, so that our minds can be firmly established in this truth. In the book of Esther, we read of how God rescued the Jews from being slaughtered as a race. But it is amazing to see how God did it – through one small incident – that the king could not sleep one night. Haman and his wife had been plotting one night to get the king’s permission to hang Mordecai on a gallows the next morning, as a prelude to destroying all the Jews. 

But while Haman and his wife were making their wicked plans, God was working on behalf of Mordecai too. “The Keeper of Israel never slumbers or sleeps.”(Psalm 121:4). God prevented the king from sleeping that night, “During that night the king could not sleep so he gave an order to bring the book of records, the chronicles, and they were read before the king.”(Esther 6:1). The king listened to his nation’s history for many hours, until the day began to break. Then the reading came to the place where it was recorded that Mordecai had once saved the king from being assassinated. The king asked his servants what honour had been bestowed on Mordecai for this, and they replied that nothing had been done. God’s timing of events was again perfect. At that very moment Haman walked in, planning to ask the king for permission to hang Modecai. Before Haman could open his mouth, the king asked Haman what he thought could be done for one whom the king desired to honour. Haman, conceited man that he was, thought that the king was referring to him, and so suggested a great parade of honour for such a man. “Go and do that for Mordecai, quickly,” the king said. 

How wonderfully our God can turn the tables on Satan. Haman finally hung on the very same gallows that he had made for Mordecai. As the Bible says, “He who digs a pit (for another) will fall into it (himself). And he who rolls a stone (at another) will find the stone rolling back (to crush him)” ( Proverbs 26:27). Haman, in this story, is a type of Satan who is always planning some evil against us. God won’t stop him, because God has a far better plan. He wants to turn the tables on Satan. The pit that the Devil digs for us will be the one that he himself falls into finally. Zephaniah 3:17 says (in one translation) that God is silently planning for us in love, all the time. 

While Mordecai was sleeping peacefully that night, quite ignorant of all the wicked plans that Haman and his wife were making against him, God was also planning to protect Mordecai. So Mordecai could have slept just as peacefully, even if he had known of Haman’s wicked plans. Why not? If God was on his side, who could be against him?

Once we have seen the sovereignty of God, we will stop blaming people for anything. We’ll no longer be afraid of Satan, fearing that he might harm us in some way. We won’t be afraid of sickness or disease or anything else in this world.

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**Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author at cfcindia.com / Photo by Johannes Plenio at pexels

Links To Free Resources To Help Strengthen Faith

In this post I’ve compiled lists of some helpful and free resources along with their links, to help build and strengthen your Christian faith: from articles, sermons, books, apps and many other wonderful things to accompany you on your journey. I’ve included all the things that have blessed, inspired and encouraged me along my walk. All non-denomination with solid teachings encompassing the whole Truth of God’s Word, from evangelism to discipleship and everything in-between that a Christian would need in their armour.

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR CHRISTIAN WOMEN – WEBSITE

The Sisterhood Hub: Content that has blessed, encouraged, empowered, refreshed, challenged, inspired, comforted and enlightened others, may the same be done for you too!

BIBLE TEACHING VIDEOS / APPS

Download, The Bible App: the Bible App offers a free Bible experience for smartphones, tablets, and online at Bible.com.

Download, The CFC Bible Study App: the Bible study app for all devices for Zac Poonen teachings.

Through the Bible – mp3: There’s an mp3 verse by verse version by Zac Poonen

All Jesus Taught – videos: 80 half hour bible study expositions based on Matthew 28:20, “…and teach them to do everything I have told you…” Zac Poonen

Through the Bible – videos: 70 one-hour expositions that bring out the distinctive message of each book of the Bible by Zac Poonen.

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RELATIONSHIPS

How to overcome sexual immorality / Addictions – videos: Practical advice

Christian courting / dating, marriage & parenthood – videos: Covers all stages of a Christian relationship for men and women: single, courting / dating, marriage, home, bringing up children and all the bits in-between.

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MUSIC

Christian Praise and Worship songs with lyrics / subtitles – videos: a mix of Christian songs, praise, thanksgiving, prayers and psalms with lyrics / subtitles

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FILMS / DOCUMENTARIES

Christian films, movies, biographies & documentaries – videos: Biblical and biographical Christian films and documentaries

Beginning the Christian life aright – videos: We all need to make sure we’re born again and have the fundamental truths of the Christian faith, this series is a great start – 8-part series, Zac Poonen

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TESTIMONIES

Testimonies – videos: These testimonies will strengthen your faith. In times of trials and tribulations, many lessons can be learned from these: hope, endurance, patience, forgiveness and much more, as well as how to be over-comers in these last days.

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FREEBIES AND OTHER VALUABLE RESOURCES

Free access to books, articles, sermons, and much more, for men, women, children… translated into many languages… here at CFC India! and here!

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GIFT SHOP

If you’d like to support this ministry you can do so at the book shop, where you’ll find unique, beautiful and practical essential books for every day use along with wonderful gift ideas for loved ones!

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FORUMS

Forums are a great way to reach out to other expats living in your host country and city, there are plenty on facebook groups. They’re a great source of information to get you started in the right direction:

General

Albania

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Bulgaria

Croatia

Expats in Greece

Macedonia

Slovenia

The Congregation, The Club and The Church

In order to help build God’s Church in your vicinity, you have to do things God’s way… the message above will help us understand the difference between a ‘church’ being a club, congregation or a church that the Lord is building. This is a prophetic message for our times.

The book that accompanies this message can be read for free, click on the book (below) for access. It can also be purchased at the CFC bookshop here. The other book that compliments this, is “God’s Work Done in God’s Way” just like Jesus and apostles. There’s a proven testimony by Apostle and Brother Zac Poonen of how this has already been done in our time! 

There are many other wonderful free resources at the CFC site and here, that will truly bless you.

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Evangelism Should Lead to Building the Body of Christ

It is a common mistake among believers to be taken up with one Scripture on a subject, to the exclusion of other Scriptures on the same subject. Satan tempted our Lord with the words “It is written …” (Matt. 4:6). But the Lord rejected the temptation by saying, “It is also written …” (Matt. 4:7). The whole purpose of God can be understood only when Scripture is compared with Scripture – when “It is written …” is read along with “It is also written …”. Consider the matter of “the great commission”.

Jesus commanded His disciples saying, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mk. 16:15). He also commanded them saying, “Go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matt. 28:19 NASB). These two commands are but two parts of ONE great commission. Only through a careful consideration of, and obedience to, both parts of this commission can we find and fulfil the whole will of God. The first step obviously is to go out and preach the gospel to everyone (Mk. 16:15). This command is not addressed to the individual believer, but to the whole body of Christ. It is humanly impossible for any single individual or any local church by itself to preach the gospel to every human being in the whole world. Each of us can, at best, have but a small part in this task.

But that part, however small it be, we must fulfil. Here is where Acts 1:8 comes into the picture. Each believer must have the Holy Spirit coming upon him and enduing him with power, if he is to be an effective witness for Christ. Note carefully, that all are not called to be evangelists (for Christ has given only some evangelists to His church – as Ephesians 4:11 makes clear), but all are called to be His witnesses.

An evangelist has a wider field of work than a witness. A witness has to proclaim Christ in the circle in which he moves and works – to relatives, neighbours, fellow workers in his office and to the others he comes across daily, to whom he may happen to be led to while travelling, etc. Here is where we can all be witnesses, whatever our earthly occupations may be. But Christ has also given evangelists to the church who have a wider ministry of reaching the lost. However, the evangelist’s task is NOT merely that of ‘winning souls’ or ‘bringing people to Christ’ (as we commonly hear), but ‘building up the body of Christ’ (as Eph. 4:11, 12 makes plain). Here is where the biggest failure of much of today’s evangelism lies. Most of today’s evangelism is related NOT to building up the body of Christ, but to saving individual souls. These souls are then usually sent back to their dead ‘churches’ where they soon get lost all over again, or at best, become lukewarm and fit for being spat out of the mouth of the Lord one day (Rev. 3:16).

Either way, they are not built into the body of Christ. Thus, only Satan’s purposes are accomplished – for the person has then become twofold a child of hell (Matt. 23:15) first, because he was lost to start with, and second, because he has now been deluded by some evangelist into thinking that he is saved, when he is still lost!! The only thing that is built up through such evangelism is the evangelist’s private empire. And the only reason for such evangelism is usually the evangelist’s desire to make money or to get the honour of men, or both!!

Jesus called evangelists ‘fishers of men’. But evangelism that is done in cooperation with unconverted “Christian” leaders and groups or with the sponsorship of vote-seeking political leaders is like fishing with a net full of holes. One cannot imagine Jesus inviting Annas, or Caiaphas, or Herod, or Pilate to sit with Him on the platform and inaugurate His evangelistic meetings! Yet many of today’s evangelists not only do that but also praise these unconverted leaders from their platforms.

Further, the fish that are caught in such “nets” are allowed to go back into the sea (dead “churches”), to be caught all over again at the next evangelistic meeting, only to be let back into the sea once more!! This process is repeated again and again by the many evangelists conducting interdenominational meetings these days, with each evangelist counting hands, decision cards, etc. Such evangelism brings joy, not to the angels of heaven but to the hosts of Satan! For, after all, how can angels rejoice over those who are made twofold the children of hell? Statistics in today’s evangelistic meetings are totally deceptive.

Even if signs and wonders accompany the proclamation of the message that Jesus forgives sins and heals diseases, the question that still remains is how many have been made disciples and built into the body of Christ through such evangelism. The apostles of our Lord never engaged in this type of evangelism. They placed their converts into local churches to be made into disciples and built up spiritually.

The five ministries mentioned in Ephesians 4:11 (apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers) are listed in their order of priority in 1 Corinthians 12:28. There we are told, “God has appointed in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then gifts of healing (that refers to evangelists, since all evangelists in New-Testament times had the gifts of healing), and then administrations (literally, ‘those who steer the ships’, referring to shepherds/pastors).”

This makes it clear that in God’s eyes, the ministries of the apostle, prophet and teacher are more important to the building up of the body of Christ than that of the evangelist. The evangelist can find his proper place in his ministry only as he takes his appointed place in subjection to the ministries of the apostle, the prophet and the teacher. Only then can his ministry serve to the building up of the body of Christ. Here is where 20th-century evangelism has gone astray from the Word of God.

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**By Zac Poonen Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author: cfcindia.com / Photo by Luis Quintero from Pexels

God Does Not Want Our Offerings, But Our Body as a Living Sacrifice

“May we first learn to sit at His feet and listen, and nurture a pure and simple devotion unto Him… may He lead us in all our ways, never leaning on our own understand, but in all our ways acknowledging Him, so He can direct our paths…

In Hebrews 10:5, we read that “God doesn’t want our offerings.” I quote this verse to people who have suffered under preachers who have kept on telling them that God wants their offerings. What does it say here that God desires from us? – Our bodies. Under the old covenant, the emphasis was, “Pay your tithes to the Levites.” In the New Testament the emphasis is, “Give your bodies to God” (Rom.12:1). A church that is constantly asking its people to pay their tithes is an old-covenant church. A new-covenant church will emphasise presenting our bodies -our eyes, our hands, our tongues, etc.,- as a living sacrifice to God. It is not material offerings that God desires from us today, but our bodies.

Giving our bodies to God is the new-covenant equivalent of the old-covenant tithe – just like Christ dying on the cross is the equivalent of the old-covenant lamb sacrificed on the Passover day. Does this mean that we don’t have to give any money now for the work of God on earth? You may certainly give, but God wants only what you give cheerfully (2 Cor.9:7). In any case, He wants your body first of all. Those who give Him their bodies usually give Him everything else as well. But everything must be given cheerfully and joyfully.

When Jesus came into the world, He did not come to give tithes and material offerings to His Father (Hebrews 10:5). He came to give His body as a sacrifice. And He is the Mediator of the new covenant and taught us that what God wants from us, primarily, is our body.

Many give offerings of money and service to God. You may boast that you have distributed hundreds of tracts, or served as a missionary in some difficult area for many years, or prayed for a number of hours, or fasted for many days. These are all good offerings. But those offerings don’t have any value to God, if you still lust sexually with your eyes and still get angry. Then you haven’t given Him what He wants first of all – your body. Then God will say to you, “Forget about giving Me your sacrifices and your offerings. Give Me your eyes and your tongue first of all. I want your body.” Don’t substitute material offerings for your body. People who value the material offerings they have given to God are back in the old covenant. In the new covenant what God wants is your body. The book of Hebrews is one of the most important books in the Bible. If you want to live in the new covenant, study Hebrews.

Jesus never had a body when He was in heaven. When He came into this world the Father gave Him a body. What was He to do with that body? Was He to show His love for His Father by going to some difficult place like Africa as a missionary? Or was He to pray for 4 hours every day and fast twice a week? None of these. He says, “I have come (to earth), to do Your will O God – and not to make sacrifices” (Hebrews 10:7). This is what Jesus used His body for- and this is what we have to use our bodies for, as well. When we present our bodies to God, it is to do His will thereafter with every part of them- with our eyes, hands, tongues, passions, desires, etc., our only passion in life thereafter will be to do the will of God every day.

 

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**Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author: cfcindia.com / photo by Cottonbro at pixels

Disciple-Making and Building the Body of Christ

Some believers consider God’s Word as having almost only one command – to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature (Mark. 16:15). This command must certainly be obeyed by the total body of Christ worldwide – particularly by those who are given by Christ as evangelists to the body (Eph. 4:11). But the work will still be unfinished, if this command of Christ is not balanced by His other command to go and make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19).

We thank God for all those who, at much personal cost, have gone out into all the world and preached the gospel to those who have never heard the name of Jesus. But it is a sad fact of twentieth century evangelism that the threefold command of Matthew 28:19,20– to make disciples, to immerse them in water in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and to teach them obedience to all of Jesus’ commands – is almost totally ignored. When multitudes of believers are emphasising evangelism without making disciples, it becomes our task to restore the lost emphasis – to make disciples – and to complete the unfinished task.

Many think only of the unfinished task of various areas of the world yet to be reached with the gospel. God gives that burden to those who have that evangelistic calling. But to others God gives the equally important task – the more difficult task – of making these converts into disciples.

This can be illustrated by a carpentry shop engaged in making tables where multitudes of carpenters are busy making just the four legs and very few are employed in making the table tops to complete the tables. The result is that the shop is piled high with unfinished tables and the carpenters are still busy producing more half-finished jobs. We can be sure that Jesus, in the carpentry shop at Nazareth, always finished a table before moving on to the next one. He always believed in finishing a task begun (even as He cried, “It is finished”, on the cross) and He is the same today. We are co-workers with Him and must also believe in a finished job. All converts must be made into disciples.

In the Old Testament, it was impossible for God’s people, the Jews, to become one body. That became possible only after Jesus ascended up to heaven and poured out the Holy Spirit to indwell man. Now, two can become one. In the Old Testament, Israel was a congregation. The nation grew in size, but it was still a congregation. In the New Testament, however, the church is to be a body, not a congregation.

If two do not become one, then all that you have there is a congregation. The important thing in Christ’s body is not size but unity. And by this standard it becomes difficult to find a ‘church’ that is not a congregation. Everywhere one finds congregations that are increasing in size – but not in unity. Strife and jealousy and competition are found even at the leadership level.

God desires to have an expression of Christ’s body in different places all over the world. Babylonian Christianity cannot accomplish this. But God’s work still goes on through a remnant who realise that the mark of Jesus’ disciples is fervent love for one another and not largeness of number.

In the body of Christ, each person is valued, even if he is not gifted. He is valued because he is a member of the body. In fact, it says that God gives greater honour to the member who lacks gift so that there may be unity in the body (1 Cor. 12:24,25). In the church, we have to follow God’s example and honour even those who have no gift at all, if they are God fearing and humble. In Babylon, the gifted preacher, the gifted singer and the converted astronaut are honoured. But in the church (God’s tent), we honour those who fear the Lord (see Psa. 15:1,4).

Jesus said that we were to teach all Christians to obey all that He had taught (Matt. 28:20). God requires obedience more than sacrifice (1 Sam. 15:22). It is a heathen concept that God requires us to go through various forms of physical suffering in order to prove our love for Him. This is very prevalent in the heathen culture in India and has unfortunately pervaded Christianity in our country as well. Spirituality is therefore seen as giving up one’s job and going out to some difficult place, undergoing various hardships, etc. All this may involve much sacrifice, but it can never be a substitute for obedience to God’s Word.

Our love for Jesus is not proved by sacrifice but by obedience to His commandments – as Jesus Himself said in John. 14:15 to obey everything that Jesus has taught us in Matthew 5-7 is a far greater proof of our love for Him than even giving Him 50% of our salary or giving up our job and becoming a missionary.

Holiness is the characteristic of the true church (Jerusalem). So growth in Jerusalem is measured by growth in holiness – which includes love for one another. Jesus said that the way to life was narrow and that few would find it. Those who proclaim the narrow gate as narrow as Jesus made it will find that very few join their church (Matt. 7:13,14). If, on the other hand, we make the gate broader than Jesus made it, we shall increase in numbers easily. This is where much of today’s Christendom has gone astray. Jesus spoke about the narrow gate and the narrow way in the context of the ‘sermon on the mount’ (Matt. ch. 5-7). The content of those chapters is therefore what constitutes the narrow gate and the narrow way.

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**By Zac Poonen Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author: cfcindia.com / Picture by Ylanite Koppens at Pixels