By Ay Nee Ng
Folks, when you think of redecorating your home, what comes to mind? Cost and style! How many us do find that we are always prone to overestimate the benefits of things we desire and to underestimate the price involved? Committing to a small redecorating project normally becomes a far bigger commitment than we anticipated –this happened when we undertook to renovate SGC.
This is also a danger in the matter of discipleship. There are lots more to the cost of being His disciples than you may know but also loads of benefits. If we truly desire to be followers of our Lord along the path of discipleship, it is imperative that we first heed the words of our Lord and count the cost of discipleship, lest we become falsely discouraged or disillusioned.
I always say this to anyone: “When you undertake something in life, don’t go into things blindly.” So, with this understanding, we should also weigh these costs against the benefits of being a follower of Jesus. Only in this way, we can make an intelligent decision in this decisive matter of discipleship.
Discipleship is taking a believer who has confessed Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour from being a new believer, desiring milk in the Word, to a matured Christian, who desires meat in the Word, knows God and is growing in the ways of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is about bringing a value added change in each believer’s life.
Making disciples is the commission of our Lord Jesus Christ before He was taken up into heaven (Mt. 28:18-20). It is laying down principles from the Word of God to every believer of Christ in order to be equipped to discern what is right and morally wrong, to be corrected, directed and instructed in the ways of our Lord Jesus Christ and to bring an understanding of who we are in Christ Jesus.
The Church of Jesus Christ is the Bride of Christ, a hospital, the Body of believers serving together to build His kingdom, having kingdom dynamics, a family, and an army. Let us start with the understanding that we belong to this family of believers. Our church is a family.
Now, do you each have a family? Some do and some don’t. Do you feel you are part of that family? Do you belong? Some do and some don’t. What is good in your church family that you can reproduce in your own family and community? What about if you are orphaned, alone and longing for a family? A family is there for each other; through thick and thin, there is care and concern. In God’s family, we have this unquestionable love of God to carry us through. He will never let us down.
Being a Family of God
The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ and the Father are One and that He is also the only begotten Son of God.
Read John 1:1-4.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
Read Hebrews 1:1-5
1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. 5 For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”? Or again, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son.”
This filial term indicates God regards Jesus as a family member. This is a principle of God to all born again believers. We too are members of this family (Rom. 9:8; 1 Jn. 3:1-2).
1. How do we become a part of the family of God?
To become a part of any family, you are either born into that family or adopted into the family. When we hear the gospel, confess our sins, and place our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, we are at that moment born again into God’s kingdom as His children.
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (Jn. 1:12-13) and “become heirs with Him for eternity” (Rom. 8:14-17).
While Jesus Christ is referred to as the only begotten Son of God, believers are referred to as children born again into God’s family. As well as being born again into the family of God, we, as sons and heirs, are adopted into His family (Gal. 4:4-7), and need to grow and mature in our faith (Eph. 4:11-16), mentoring other believers in the ways of God, releasing the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This is what discipleship is all about.
God’s infinite grace and mercy are revealed in Ephesians 1:5-6, which says He redeems sinners, whom He has “adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”
2. What does being part of the family of God mean?
a. Being identified with Christ Jesus-God as our Father. We are His children. He is our heavenly Father. Church, if you do not have a good image of your earthly father, picture this, you have an awesome heavenly Father.
Church, do you think that God is the Father of everyone? No, Scripture teaches us that this is not the case. Since the fall of Adam and Eve, all mankind has been born in sin and therefore alienated from God (Ps. 51:5; Eph. 2:12; 4:18; Col. 1:21), and we belong to the father of lies, Satan (Jn. 8:44). While God is the Creator of all, He is not the Father of all. Only those who through the powerful working of the Spirit of God believe upon and receive Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for their sins are reconciled to God and adopted into His family (Jn. 1:12–13; Rom. 5:10; 8:15–17; Eph. 1:5; Gal. 4:4–7).
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (Jn. 1:12-13). The only way to have God as one’s Father is to have Jesus Christ as one’s Lord and Saviour.
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (Jn. 14:6).
“No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.” (1 Jn. 2:23).
Read 1 Peter 2:9-12.
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”
b. Being loved unconditionally by God and experiencing His love. Knowing that I can call the only eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, ever present Creator of the universe “Father” or even “Abba ” (the English equivalent “Daddy”) is one of the greatest blessings of what it means to be part of God’s family. He is not million miles away nor untouchable. He is near at hand and lives in me. I can also experience His sacrificial love. He did it for me! He tore down the wall of sin and hostility that separated us from God through dying on the cross (Eph. 2:15).
“And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood” (Rev. 1:5).
His love abounds when He resurrected. Because of His resurrection, we can overcome sin and deat, are now at peace with God and can experience the full breadth, length, height, and depth of His love (Rom. 5:1; Eph. 3:17–19).
c. Being cared for (having our needs met). He gave us direct access to Him in prayer. We have a hotline to God (Jer. 3:33). God has given us everything we need, not only to live, but to live godly lives (Mt. 6:31–33; 2 Pet. 1:3).
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).
“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).
d. Kingdom mentality of belonging to a large and loving family. Those who have received Jesus Christ have Him not only as Lord and Saviour but also as the firstborn in the family (Heb. 1:6; Rev. 1:5). This is the time that we belong to a community of believers, not just our church, but a wider networking of all believers in Christ Jesus, our brothers and sisters in Christ.
“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (Rom. 8:29).
“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation […]. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy (Col. 1:15, 18).
Although some believers have had to leave or have been forsaken by their blood relatives because of their faith in Christ, they have received a hundred times as many brothers and sisters in Christ (Mt. 19:29).
Read 1 Peter 2:9-12.
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”
e. Being significant and purposeful in this life that has eternal significance. As part of God’s family, we are given spiritual gifts that we can use to grow and strengthen the family, which is the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12) and to live Godly lives (1 Pet. 2:11-12)
Read 1 Peter 4:10-11.
10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
As members of the family we have the responsibility and privilege to share and extend the invitation to others to believe in Christ and enjoy being in God’s family (Mt. 28:19–20).
f. Being secured and having an eternal inheritance. Most of us will receive some kind of inheritance from our earthly or natural parents which is a temporal material inheritance, but believers in Christ will receive an imperishable, unfading, eternal inheritance from our Father in heaven (Eph. 1:11; Col. 1:12; Heb. 9:15; 1 Pet. 1:4).
Those who have received Christ and can therefore call God “Father or Abba Father” will inherit eternal life in a resurrected body on a new earth (Phil. 3:20–21; 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1). The crown jewel of this inheritance will be the eternal delight of dwelling in the presence of and in loving fellowship with the Lamb of God, the Light of this World, and the Lamp of the World to Come, Jesus Christ (Rev. 21:22–23).
g. Being assured of reaching out to the lost, poor, sick, and needy. It means we can include others into the family of God. It is not all-inclusive. As members of the family we have the responsibility and privilege to share and extend the invitation to others to believe in Christ and enjoy being in God’s family (Mt. 28:19–20).
Discipleship is taking every believer in understand the power in the Word of God and growing to reproduce who we are in Christ Jesus. Discipleship is a shift in the ways we used to think and do things to a change in our attitudes and perception that there is a value added purpose in our lives. We are to multiply. It is about counting the cost and knowing that Jesus Christ is coming back again for a spotless bride.
Read Luke 14:25-33.
25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.