In reality, every leader follows someone who trod the path before him. We follow Christ. Though we cannot literally see Him, we walk with Him. However, we can read what He did and taught because God has provided us a faithful witness of what we need to follow to be prepared to serve under Him in His Kingdom. We must faithfully abide by what we are shown in His Word.
God promises He will be faithful (Deuteronomy 7:9). The apostle Paul declares God is faithful (I Corinthians 1:9). Both Jesus and Moses are declared faithful (Hebrews 3:1-2), and all of those leaders named in Hebrews 11 were faithful in their times of service. Now is our time to walk faithfully beside them. To be faithful is to be trustworthy, reliable, and responsible in our interactions with both God and man.
What must we do? What must we follow? The same basic things the heroes of faith did. It is easy to say we must keep God's commandments, which is certainly true. However, notice that those great leaders of the past are all mentioned for accomplishing some task more specific than keeping the commandments. Keeping the commandments is a general responsibility for all, and doing so is important in itself. Yet, each leader also achieved a specific responsibility: Abel made a sacrifice, Enoch walked with God, Noah built an ark, Abraham offered Isaac, Moses stood fast before Pharaoh, etc.
We need to understand our calling to be more specific and distinct than being “merely” one of a multitude in the church. How specific it is for each called individual is not yet known. Even so, being individually and personally called by the Father is awesome all by itself.
The apostle Paul shows in I Corinthians 12 that we must not think our calling is merely random, a coincidence. Such thinking glorifies neither God's genius nor His magnanimous generosity in stooping to call us. God is following a plan. He is creating a family team, and within His actions, nothing happens by chance, not even our calling:
For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. . . . But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. . . . Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. (I Corinthians 12:12-13, 18, 27-31)
God is expanding His Family, the church, and at the same time filling positions of responsibility to be faithfully performed by the elect. The church is called and formed as a body of people led by the Holy Spirit to do works representing God. There is undoubtedly some overlap in what the elect are required to achieve, but plainly, everyone does not perform exactly the same specific responsibilities.
No employer, be it a large corporation or an individual entrepreneur, looks for potential employees who cannot perform the available positions. No one, when first converted by God, is prepared to perform the tasks He has in mind for him, but each one has the potential to do just that if he will submit to the training God assigns. God is calling, training, and fitting us into the Body to follow Christ faithfully wherever He leads.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Leadership and Covenants (Part Three)
Notice how many active words Paul uses in Colossians 3:1-17 to describe what a Christian must be doing:
- "Seek those things which are above" (verse 1).
- "Set your mind on things above" (verse 2).
- "Put to death your members" (verse 5).
- "Put off all these" (verse 8).
- "Do not lie to one another" (verse 9).
- "Put on tender mercies" (verse 12).
- "Bearing with one another, and forgiving" (verse 13).
- "Put on love" (verse 14).
- "Let the peace of God rule . . . and be thankful" (verse 15).
- "Let the word of Christ dwell in you" (verse 16).
- "Do all in the name of the Lord Jesus" (verse 17).
Paul makes sure we understand that we must actively participate in order to grow. When God talks about growth, He means increasing in His attributes, the qualities that will conform us to His image.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Five Teachings of Grace
In broader generalities, Christ told the Ephesian church to do the same (Revelation 2:1-7). Here we see it in Paul's epistle to the Colossians, in a more specific way.
Because of what Christ said, we can understand that it is not impossible for us to redirect our energies and feelings. If we tie Galatians 6:7-10 to Colossians 3:1-4 and Revelation 2:1-7, we can see that Paul was saying that the rewards are in the doing—in the works. As Christ said, "I know your works." The solution is, "You need to redirect your energies, go back to your former devotion. And, if you have the right devotion, if you show real love, then the right works will come, and you will overcome."
God's way is such that it begins producing the good soon, not late. The apostle is saying that, if we begin sowing the right seed, we will soon begin to reap the fruit of the harvest to come because God's Word always produces results. God says that His Word will not go forth and return empty. We can be assured that fruit will be produced if we sow the right things, if we turn our energies to the way they should be.
The harvest, then, begins to be reaped—soon, in the sense of well-being, a sense that things are well between us and God. John 3:21 and the next several verses tie in here so well. So in the Ephesian church, as well as the whole church era, the members' lack of love was showing in what they were doing. Ignorance was not motivating them, but a loss of affection for Christ (Revelation 2:4-5). This is serious business. If there is no love for Christ, there is no salvation (I Corinthians 16:22).
John W. Ritenbaugh
How to Know We Love Christ
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