Theme: Onward! Onward!
This week’s lessons press the importance that it is not enough merely to show an initial interest in following Christ; one must persevere in obedience to the very end.
Scripture: Luke 9:57-62
The greater part of this chapter has been negative, warning those who are contemplating Christ’s service that the mere setting out is not sufficient. There must be perseverance. It is he who “stands firm to the end” who is saved (Matt. 10:22). But I do not want to end there. I want to end on the character of those who are saved, those of “violence” who, Jesus says, “lay hold of the kingdom” and will not be denied until they possess it (Matt. 11:12).
It is said of Calvinists that they undercut all motivation for true godly living and evangelism. “For,” so the argument goes, “if God ordains all things, there is no obligation for me or anyone else to do anything. If God wants something to happen, it will happen. If He does not, it will not happen. There is nothing for me to do. I will sit back and let God work. I will enjoy myself and let it happen.”
That is not the way it is. It is true that in a way we do not fully understand how God does order the working out of all things. If He did not, He would not be God. He would be the victim of circumstances rather than being in charge of them. God is in charge of circumstances. But when God orders things He does so through means, and one of these means is the fervent persistent activity of those whose lives have been transformed by the utterly divine work of regeneration.
Jesus told the educated Nicodemus that he must be “born again” (John 3:3, 7). If he was not, he could not even see the kingdom of God much less enter it. Regeneration is from above. However, once the work of regeneration has taken place, the individual is no longer as he was. He is now Christ’s man or woman. He is one who sees the kingdom and presses with all his might to enter it. What is the character of those who put their hands to the plow and who do not look back?
It is the character of those who have an unquenchable thirst for righteousness and who will not turn back until their thirst is satisfied.
They are those who have a hunger for spiritual things. They can never seem to get enough of God’s Word. It is their chief delight all the day.
They are sheep who were lost but who have now heard their shepherd’s voice and are comforted by no other.
They were blind, but they have been made to see. Their eyes are filled with visions of glory yet to come.
They are pilgrims whose eyes are on the heavenly city.
They are virgins whose lamps are carefully tended and filled to overflowing.
They are servants who are using the talents given by their master to the greatest effect. They do not bury them. They invest their assets in God’s service.
They are people who feed the hungry. They give drink to the thirsty, shelter to the stranger, clothes to the naked, care to the sick, and comfort to the one who has been imprisoned.
They are branches who bear fruit, wells which do not run dry, runners who do not weary in the race. They are servants whom the Lord finds watching when He returns.
Define regeneration. How does a correct understanding of this doctrine help to give assurance of whether or not one really is a disciple?
There are many different understandings of what a Christian is. How would you explain it to an unbeliever?
Application: Review the character traits of a genuine disciple. How true are these of you?
Key Point: God is in charge of circumstances. But when God orders things He does so through means, and one of these means is the fervent persistent activity of those whose lives have been transformed by the utterly divine work of regeneration.
For Further Study: Download for free and listen to Philip Ryken’s message, “Don’t Look Back.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)