17. The Apprenticeship of Discipleship

By John Thiel, Audio: The Apprenticeship of Discipleship

The question may be asked, what has discipleship to do with the First Angel’s Message or indeed any of the other Three Angels’ Messages? In order to identify what discipleship is we read:

The angels are represented as flying in the midst of heaven, proclaiming to the world a message of warning, and having a direct bearing upon the people living in the last days of this earth’s history. No one hears the voice of these angels, for they are a symbol to represent the people of God who are working in harmony with the universe of heaven. Men and women, enlightened by the Spirit of God and sanctified through the truth, proclaim the three messages in their order. {2SM 387.1}

From this statement we understand that the proclamation of the three angel’s messages has to do with a people who are practically engaged with the truth they proclaim. They are people who work in harmony with the universe of heaven so that they are working, living, and actively engaging in the discipleship activity. If we are to be identified with the three angels messages we need to have the messages in our very experience in order to proclaim them. How can we possibly receive the living practicality of the three angel’s messages unless we are disciples of Christ? To understand discipleship we need to watch and examine the work of Jesus with his twelve disciples.

Matthew 4:18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. 20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. 21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.

Jesus said to the disciples follow me and I will make you fishers of men.  In other words he was saying I will train you just in the same way as a fisherman enters into the trade of fishing. Jesus called his disciples together and in Matthew 19 he now calls a very capable man in just the same way.

The Rich Young Ruler

Jesus is speaking to the rich young ruler.

Matthew 19:21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. 22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

The rich young ruler said what good thing must I do to have eternal life? As Jesus calls this young man he is calling him in exactly the same way that he called the other disciples before.  Jesus said to the young man, if though be perfect go and sell all that thou hast and give to the poor and thou shalt have treasure in heaven. To be a disciple of Jesus at that time was to follow the call of Christ.  The fisherman let go of their businesses and families. They left all to follow Jesus. The rich young man was called in exactly the same way – follow me.  But he chose not to follow Jesus because he was attached to his possessions. The original church was formed on this basis – following the call of Jesus.

Matthew 10:37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. 10:39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

We see what Jesus said to them in reference to this principle of what it means to be a disciple. A disciple is someone who leaves behind everything that is not relevant to discipleship. This may even mean leaving behind fellow human beings who would block us in being able to pursue our path. The scripture expresses here that it is in fact a cross in following Jesus Christ but in our great love for Him and the atonement messages that we have become enthralled with, nothing is too great a sacrifice for Him. I will love my discipleship work irrespective of what anyone else wants me to do.

Math 19:27 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? 28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. 30 But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.

As the disciples left everything they came to a point in their walk with Jesus where they asked Him what are we going to get for all this.  This question was in direct consequence to the young man leaving Jesus and not responding to the call. It made the disciples ask the question – now that we have let everything go for Jesus what are we going to get out of it?  The discipleship of Jesus means leaving behind anything that has nothing to do with the discipleship and looking forward to the final graduation which is true church participation. The consequence of that discipleship will be to receive a hundred fold and to gain eternal life. The disciple of Christ will get up and follow Christ’s example.

Follow Me

When Jesus said follow me what did he actually mean by that?

John 12:26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.

To follow Jesus is to be where he is and where he wants me. It is not to be where I want to be or where others call me to be.

1 John 2:6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

Jesus said if you love others more than me you are not worthy of me. To follow Jesus means to walk as He walked and to practice the lifestyle that He lived. In practicing the lifestyle that Jesus practices it takes us back to the atonement. Jesus became at one with humanity and he wants us to become one with him in character building by following his example;

1 Peter 2:22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:

Christ suffered for us leaving us an example. He did not sin neither was any guile found in his mouth. To follow Jesus means to follow His footsteps in life in the example of his character and his work.

Luke 14:26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

Here is another repetition of the concept of living His lifestyle and doing what He does. If my mother, father, wife, husband, children, brethren and sisters do not want to follow the life and character example of Christ then I must not enjoy being with them.  Even though the scripture uses the word hate, this simply means that we are not to enjoy what others are doing if it does not harmonise with the example that Jesus has given us.

For example, Jesus honoured His mother up until his ministry. Then at the wedding celebration His mother put a requirement on him which wasn’t meant to happen at this stage. Notice in John 2 what Jesus says to his mother. He begins to distance himself from her;

John 2:4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.

As Jesus mother, Mary was exercising the typical motherly requirement. Jesus responds – What am I to do with you on this matter? I have a different calling now and I have to leave you. Nevertheless Jesus still did what Mary requested. Just like Jesus we sometimes need to put the brakes on with other people and not yield to all their requests.  As the disciples learned from Jesus they then became agents to attract other disciples. When the disciples had gone through their training with Jesus they in fact learned how to become fishers of men and they brought others in.  After his death and resurrection we read that Jesus sent the disciples out to do this work;

John 20:20 And when he had so said, he showed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. 21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

Jesus said to them as the father has sent me I am now sending you. Here is the Holy Spirit- He will be with you as He was with me.  What was it that Jesus did that the disciples were now commissioned to do?

Go Teach

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

The disciples having graduated from their apprenticeship were then commissioned to raise up other disciples in the self same way that Jesus did it. Jesus said to them go teach and baptize because all power is given unto me. As I have the power and have imparted it to you through breathing my Spirit unto you, now you can do the work I have been doing. At Pentecost we see that the disciples followed the exact same procedure as Jesus as they called the people.

Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

What did they do?

Acts 2:42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

These people became absorbed with Jesus and had all things in common. While they still had houses they went from house to house distributing goods so that everything they had they shared in common. Let us relate together in the discipleship as a whole church focusing on following Jesus and the teachings that he gives. The Apostle John brings this to our appreciation the kind of work that the disciples did in calling the people. He helps us to understand what it is to be a disciple doing that work of drawing others.

1 John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) 3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. 5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

This scripture spells out for us how to be a disciple. The disciples saw and handled things with their own eyes and they now imparted to others. They declared to others you also may have this intimate fellowship that is ours, come fellowship with us. Our fellowship is with the Father and the Son and we are sharing this with you so that you may have fulness of joy. They also explained that if people choose not to join in the fellowship of the message with them they would not be walking in the light but darkness. If you say you have fellowship in Christ but you walk in darkness – you are lying?  It is only by walking with Jesus in church fellowship that we can have total discipleship. In connecting all this with the three angel’s messages we have a direct reference in the writings of E. G. White. This speaks of the people at the end who represent the three angel’s messages;

During the past fifty years of my life, I have had precious opportunities to obtain an experience. I have had an experience in the first, second, and third angels’ messages. The angels are represented as flying in the midst of heaven, proclaiming to the world a message of warning, and having a direct bearing upon the people living in the last days of this earth’s history. No one hears the voice of these angels, for they are a symbol to represent the people of God who are working in harmony with the universe of heaven. Men and women, enlightened by the Spirit of God and sanctified through the truth, proclaim the three messages in their order. {2SM 387.1}

I have acted a part in this solemn work. Nearly all my Christian experience is interwoven with it. There are those now living who have an experience similar to my own. They have recognized the truth unfolding for this time; they have kept in step with the great Leader, the Captain of the Lord’s host. {2SM 387.2}

In the proclamation of the messages, every specification of prophecy has been fulfilled. Those who were privileged to act a part in proclaiming these messages have gained an experience which is of the highest value to them; and now when we are amid the perils of these last days, when voices will be heard on every side saying, “Here is Christ,” “Here is truth,:” while the burden of many is to unsettle the foundation of our faith which has led us from the churches and from the world to stand as a peculiar people in the world, like John our testimony will be borne: {2SM 387.3}

Discipleship is to do with the hearing of the three angel’s messages so far. We need to follow the call of Jesus like the disciples did. We need to put forth our feet in action in the steps of Jesus, in the steps of the three angel’s messages. Each study we commence is another step taken in the program of discipleship and as we follow these steps we will recognise the call.

He who called the fisherman of Galilee is still calling men to His service. And He is just as willing to manifest His power through us as through the first disciples. However imperfect and sinful we may be, the Lord holds out to us the offer of partnership with Himself, of apprenticeship to Christ. He invites us to come under the divine instruction, that, uniting with Christ, we may work the works of God. {DA 297.1}

How Practical

The apprenticeship with Christ has to do with the works of God. The discipleship of Jesus is to follow the tradesman in his activity and as we come under that divine instruction uniting with Christ we will step by step be fulfilling the works of God. That is the apprenticeship as applicable to the three angel’s messages. As our studies continue we will be pursuing the apprenticeship in other aspects of Christ’s ministry – for example in Luke  the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray.

Luke 11:1 And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.

This will be our next study in the apprenticeship of Christ – Prayer Life.  As a follower of Christ prayer life is a necessity.  Jesus had to teach them even after he had already been crucified and risen again.

Luke 24:44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. 45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,

Jesus also taught the disciples Bible study techniques. This is another apprenticeship study we will be taking – The Study of God’s Word. Then as they walked with Jesus they began to get to know him.

Math 11:27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.

The disciples began to know Jesus and that was how they were able to reveal Him to others. In this scripture Jesus the tradesman of true Christianity is the one who is imparting the knowledge of the Father;

John 14:8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. 9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? 10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.

As the disciples followed Jesus they met with the Father through Him. What does Phillip learn about the Father in this apprenticeship?

Roman 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

According to this scripture Jesus represented the goodness of the Father and as we studied before all the facilities of God are imparted to us through Jesus. As we walk with God and learn what a wonderful person He is as revealed in Jesus Christ – all that goodness forbearance and love is going to make something happen inside to me. It is going to make me repent. This is another apprenticeship – the Study of Repentance.  Repentance, justification and sanctification will be next in line of study.

A True Disciple

To be true disciples at this time we must know what is written;

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

This is another one of our studies – Gods perfect will Verses God’s Permissive will.  In these last days we need to know God’s perfect will if we want to be part of the people who are sealed by the third angel.

Isaiah 8:14 And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15 And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken. 16 Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.

This is talking about people living in the last days who have the law of the Ten Commandments among them. They are His true disciples because in the last days many will be snared and taken. The shaking will cause many to fall and stumble but His true disciples the ones that understand discipleship will have the law sealed among them. God’s perfect will is a people who complete the commandments of God in living reality. Those who partake in the discipleship gain an experimental knowledge of God by experience.

Proverbs 4:18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

The people who are under the apprenticeship of Christ are called the just. They learn more and more detail of the living practical life of Jesus each day and as they do, they learn through Jesus what the Father is like. As they continue to learn they shine more and more unto the perfect day. This is what we are waiting for under the three angel’s messages – the perfect day.

He who places himself where God can enlighten him, advances, as it were, From the partial obscurity of dawn to the full radiance of noonday. {AA 564.2}

Like an apprentice he does not know at first but he will know.

It takes time to transform the human to the divine which will attract it upward, and habituate it to meditate upon pure and holy things. {SA 179.1}

We do not have to do the work of a lifetime in a few hours. We need not look into the future with anxiety; for God has made it possible for us to be overcomers every day. {FLB 249.4}

It’s an apprenticeship and we will learn exactly the same way as we have studied how Jesus learned.

Hebrews 5:8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

The apprenticeship involves learning obedience by trial and error and by the things which we suffer. Jesus Christ was also an apprentice but now he is a master tradesman and we are following Him.

Matthew 10:24 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. 10:25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?

Jesus is the master and through the discipleship process we will become a master like Him one day also. We will become equal to him – this is what discipleship is all about. When God has a people that understand this they will become the powerful agents of the three angels’ messages. Anyone out there who needs to be gathered in will be gathered in under the three angel’s messages. May we be willing to keep patiently leaning under the discipleship process and not become weary until we are like him this is my prayer.

Amen.

Posted on September 3, 2009, in 1st Angels Message and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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