The Christian life seems strange to human thinking and logic. It starts with a new birth, and involves the lives of the entire Godhead dwelling within the life of the Believer. The Person of the Trinity, or the Agent of God for empowering and guiding the Believer in this Spiritual life is the Holy Spirit. The Procurer of this Spiritual life is the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. This spiritual life cohabits the body of the Believer with the depraved nature. The Director of this whole plan of redemption and spiritual living is God the Father.

As a spiritually born Believer, we must live in a world which is controlled by Satan, and which is adverse to all that is Biblically spiritual. Our spiritual living is to be so different, that the world thinks us strange. Not strange because we act in a dumb or stupid manner, but because we are zealous for good works, and holy living. Because of this redemptive program, each Believer is assured of Eternal Life in the presence of God, free from the burdens and conflicts of sin. That glorious reality is an eternal fact because of the life, death and resurrection of Christ. It is ours unconditionally when we, by faith, accept the Person and work of Christ as our Savior.

The first phase of our new birth, was costly to the Trinity. It took the death of the One Who is life, Himself. It involved the disruption of the Trinity, Who had always been solidly one in all things since eternity past. Not only did it require the separation of Second Person of the Trinity from the Others, it required that the other Two turn Their backs on, and forsake the Second Person, the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. The cost of our redemption continued with the Holy One of God accepting the sins of the whole world, so He could be the propitiation for my sins, and not for my sins only, but for the sins of the whole world. The cost to God for our redemption was and is far greater than this thumbnail sketch even begins to depict. The cost to the Trinity continues as they provide a way for us to live the Christian life in a non-christian world. Our reception of Christ as Savior did not require any “action” on our part, except to believe. That “action” of ours in the Salvation process was only an act of faith within the mind or soul. It did not require a change in physical action, attitude or behavior.

Living the Christian life in a non-christian world does require many changes and actions on our part in all areas of life. These actions do not make us spiritual or holy. For the most part, they only remove those things that would hinder the indwelling Holy Spirit from manifesting spirituality through our life, or they put in place certain physical, emotional or physiological actions or attitudes that can be used by the Holy Spirit to demonstrate godliness or the Fruit of the Spirit. As we perform these actions, by the power of the Holy Spirit through the indwelling Word of God, we are transformed by the renewing of the mind into the image of Christ. This activity of living in the world and being transformed into the image of Christ is often referred to as our walk and/or our warfare. These two areas of the Christian life can be performed as an individual Believer, and we are often called on to walk and war alone. However, for the best results in either of these areas, God has surrounded us with a spiritual body called the church.

Ephesians 4:11-19 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head--Christ-- 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. 17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to licentiousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

When we and the other individual members of the body are spiritually healthy and functioning properly, the church does its job. Through that properly functioning church, we, the individual members:

This growth is into Christ or Christlikness.

Please notice that these many areas of the individual Christian experience are facilitated through and by the Church of which Christ is the Head. These individual benefits and this personal growth come as a result of our proper function within a body. These benefits and this growth are ours because of our actions which contribute to the health of the total body. God intended that each member, every joint, supply to the other members the spiritual quality that they have developed through the church, so that others as well as themselves will continue to grow. It is through this maturing, brought about by proper participation within the body, that individually, we are able to: “no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk” v.17. The tendency of most Believers is to say, “That’s good, because I’m not walking like the rest of the Gentiles.” This walking as the Gentiles certainly refers to overt actions of gross sins, but it also refers to the underlying attitude that caused the action of the gross sin. Sometimes, we Christians seem to think that as long as I’m clean on the outside, it doesn’t make much difference about the dirty attitudes on the inside.

Matthew 23:25-28 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. 27 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Let’s first establish that God is far more concerned with the inside than He is with the outside. If the inside is proper, then that properness will be evidenced on the outside. If we try to clean up the outside first, we become hypocrites, and those wrong attitudes on the inside increase. Let’s look at just one of the underlying causes of the gross outward sins involved in walking as the other Gentiles. If it is the cause of the gross sin, guess what, it’s even grosser! Look at the last part of v.19, “to work all uncleanness with greediness”. Greediness is on the inside. It is an attitude of the heart and mind by which we operate. When we are operating by the motive of greed, all our actions are wrong, no matter how nice or even how spiritual they look on the outside.

greediness = (Greek) A greedy desire to have more for self without regard for others or balance.

That is exactly what Paul was telling us in this passage not to do. We are, instead, to be giving ourselves to others through the body, so we can build the others up in Christ. By this proper function within the body, the other members supply what is needed in my life for spiritual growth, also. This is a life cycle not unlike that of the physical body. We have skipped over many, many instructions concerning individual actions and personal growth. These two, personal responsibility and our responsibility to the body, work hand in hand, and in harmony. Without these two aspects properly functioning, there can never be a balanced spiritual growth in the Believer’s life.

Some Christians want to help other Christians, but only so it will be a better environment for them to live and raise their kids. We are to help the other, for the benefit of the other, not for the benefit that will come our way through the fall-out of such help. Our help to the other members of the body is to be through growth, not as a clean-up operation of the other person’s life. Growth takes time, comes in small increments and usually comes from eating and exercising properly, not by demands or orders for the person to grow, and to do it now. Unless the internal motive is changed, even if outward compliance is given, when the right opportunity comes along that person will revert back to the “base operating system” of the old sin nature. That is one reason the local church is so important in this whole process. Through the church, the information for proper change can be given by those gifted men whom God had given to the church (Ephesians 4:11). Through the church, loving pressure, guidance and the life giving flow can be supplied to help each person grow-up into Christ (Ephesians 4:16). Because of things supplied by and through the church, the Believer need not walk as the rest of Gentiles.

Sad to say, many Believers want the other Believers to grow-up, not so much so the other Believer will be mature and have a proper walk, but so they will not have to be bothered by the other’s immaturity, or put out the effort to help the other grow. In the church, we should be looking for growth towards maturity, not for perfection, and we certainly don’t want all the body to act like you (or me)! Many times we see Christians who haven’t grown an inch spiritually in years, but they want all the others to act like them. God help us if that ever happens! We need to look for, and encourage growth, a little at a time.

In Christian circles there is a growing trend to ignore the church, and center all efforts only on the family. Well, here goes my job again! This trend is being encouraged by a very good group, the Home School Movement. Before you turn me off, and sink down into your sullen position, I’m not against the Home School Movement. To the contrary, I thank God for it and encourage those in it. But as in any religious organization, there are some real ding-a-lings, and too many who simply follow those ding-a-lings blindly without ever looking at the truth of the Word, or the future of their actions. I would not be much of a Bible teacher or a pastor, if when I see a major pitfall, I did not warn of it and give Biblical information concerning it.

The family was given by God, and it is the single most important entity. It was so in the Garden when God instituted the family and still is. Please understand, I am in no way putting down or belittling the family. Instead, I’m trying to show God’s provision for the family during this age of the Church. Some who are promoting the theory of Family Only or Family First (as it is wrongly called), contend that the family was instituted before the church. Therefore, the family is of greater value than the church. That is about as poor a theology as I have ever heard. The Word of God does not replace one with the other. The Word compliments one with the other. If we were to apply this family only theology, no, it’s a discredit to the word to even call it theology, if we were to apply that philosophy to the rest of the Scriptures, we would be in a real mess.

Just for fun, let’s apply that philosophy to some other aspects of Scripture. God created man before He created woman, therefore the man is of greater value. That might sound good to some, until you stop to realize that God created the beasts of the field before He created man. So, if we follow that line of very poor thinking, we must say that animals are more important than man.

Let me run a few more by you, just so you can see the fallacy of such a ridiculous form of thinking. God certainly instituted marriage long before the creation of the New Heaven and New Earth. As a matter of fact, the New Heaven and Earth have not been created, yet. This act of creation will not take place for at least another 1,007 years. In the coming New Heaven and Earth, Christ said they will neither marry or be given in marriage. If that which is given first by God is more important than that which follows, does that mean:

Sometimes I worry about the sanity of some people, to say nothing about their theology. The Law of Moses was given before the coming of Christ, His death and resurrection. Since God gave the Law before Christ, does the mean that our salvation which came through Christ is of less value than the atonement through the Law? We could continue on, and each comparison would be equally as bad. Unless we teach the Word of God, the whole Word of God in harmony, we can and will destroy the real message of the Word. In all of these things, we must remember that God’s plan is progressive, and we must carefully harmonize all Scripture with itself.

God still honors the home and did not give to the church fathers, mothers and procreation. But God did not give to the home,

Epehsians 4:11-17 some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head--Christ-- 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. 17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk,

God gave these things and people to the Church, and it is through the church that those things and people become beneficial to the individual Believer and to their home. Your local church may not be perfect, but make sure that the imperfection is not because of what you are, or are not contributing to it. God wants to make this local church solid, mature and a light to the world. That can be a reality only when you are: “effectively working by which every part does its share and causing growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” v.16.

The how of this type of transaction is the subject of these lessons. It is easy to say, “The purpose of the church is to make disciples.” For most of us, we don’t have the slightest idea what it takes to make disciples of Christ. For many, if they did know what was required of a disciple, they wouldn’t want anything to do with the process, anyway.

John 6:60-66 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, "This is a hard saying; who can understand it?" 61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples murmured about this, He said to them, "Does this offend you? 62 "What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? 63 "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. 64 "But there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. 65 And He said, "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father." 66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.
disciple = (Greek) a learner i.e. pupil; one who follows another’s teaching; more than a pupil, also an adherent to the teaching and life of the teacher, hence they are spoken of as imitators

In any church, there will usually be all three classes of disciples. Those who are pupils and want to learn what Christ and the Bible have to say. However, their interest is more academic than life changing. Then you will find those who have a Christian philosophy or high moral standard. However, it is rare to find many who are truly students of the Word, tenaciously clinging to its principles and seeking to imitate Christ’s attitude in all that they do, say or think. No one would fault the first two categories of disciples, but just those two categories, alone, fall far short of what Christ commissioned the church do.

Matthew 28:19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.

We are to teach or bring information to the nations of the world. This would have to do with bringing them to the saving knowledge of Christ. Paul tells us that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Once we have delivered the message of Christ, and they have accepted that message and the Person of that message, we are to baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Believer’s Baptism is a public testimony and covenant by the one being baptized. By its very form, it is testifying to the fact that we have accepted Christ as our Savior. Baptism testifies that we have become one with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. Therefore, the payment made by Christ for the sins of the whole world has now become more than just a payment of sorts. Now I’m in Christ and that payment has become my personal payment, and my sin account has been cleared. Not only have I become one with Christ in His death, I have become one with Him in His resurrected life, and the life I now live in the flesh, I live by the power of Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
Galatians 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

There is much more to Believer Baptism. We will look at it in some detail later.

Suffice to say, baptism is very important. It is one of the three components of the Great Commission:

It would certainly be a shame to be involved in two parts of that commission, and ignore the third. I believe that would be classified as partial obedience. On the other hand, if it is partial obedience, I believe that would have to classed as disobedience. It goes without saying that baptism is a testimony of the one who has already accepted Christ as Savior. Believer’s Baptism can not be a testimony of one who has not yet accepted Christ as Savior.

There is nothing wrong with putting a little water on a child’s head as a indication of and to the parents that they, the parents, intend to raise that child in the best way possible, so as early as possible that child will accept Christ as their personal Savior. That can be a beautiful picture of the parent’s resolve to raise that child in the fear and admonition of the Lord. However, by no stretch of the imagination could that be honestly called Believer’s Baptism. We can do strange things with English words, and apply almost any word to any meaning. Greek does not give such literary freedom.

baptism = (Greek) to be whelmed i.e. fully wet; to cover fully; to dip as in dying cloth

The wetting of the head of a child would hardly come close to the definition of baptism. Some would object and say, “But the word is, also, used of washing the hands." That’s true, but sprinkling a little water on a hand would not a hand washing make. To wash a hand would indicate the dipping of the hand into water, or at least getting the hand fully wet. The ceremony of child or infant baptism can be a beautiful and meaning ritual, but it does not qualify as Believer’s Baptism.

Sad to say, many feel that this ritual protects that young child from going to hell, if perchance that child died before they personally accepted Christ as Savior. Not only does infant or child baptism not match the definition of the word baptism, it does not even come close to the usage of the word in the Scriptures.

Romans 6:3-6 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.

Baptism is one of the three components of the Great Commission of Christ. We were instructed by Christ to do so, the act is illustrated and taught by Paul and others, so in obedience to our Savior and His Word, we at MBF endeavor to follow that command. The first two components of the Commission are relatively simple to participate in from a personal standpoint. A person with a little training can proclaim the gospel to a world around them. With a little water we can baptize. However, the last part of that commission is so very, very difficult to carry out, and to personally receive. That third component is teaching the baptized Believers to observe those things which Christ commanded. For our personal reference point, we have called this making disciples or discipleship. If that is the commission of Christ, and it is, and if that is the purpose of MBF, and it is, then we had better know what it is and how we go about accomplishing it. That we will attempt to do. However, the facts and the process will probably be quite different from the popular religious concept. We will look at several passages of Scripture for our study. It would be helpful to you and me, if you would read over and over again Hebrews 11 & 12, and Romans 12 especially vv.16-21.

Hebrews 11:40-12:2 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

There is no way that we can really understand chapter 12 without the background of chapter 11. As we can see in 12:1, Paul,or whoever, says that what he is about to present is based on, and in harmony with what proceeded, especially that of chapter 11. They, the Old Testament saints of faith, can not be perfect or complete apart from us, the church. We, the New Testament saints of faith, have a life of faith that is far better than the Old Testament saints had under the old economy.

The something better that we have is not because God loves us more than the Old Testament saints, or that we are better saints than they, but the Eternal Plan of God has progressed further, and God is able, because of the work and Person of Christ, to provide us with the better things resulting from that more complete plan. The teacher in me will not allow me to move on without pointing out to you, the very clear indication here of the progression of God’s program, and the harmony of the total and the accumulative effect on that progressive program. These truths misused or ignored are some of the main reasons for lack of Biblical understanding and faulty teaching.

The Old Testament Saints are not complete without us. This has many implications, some of which are:

The Holy Spirit, through Paul,or whoever wrote Hebrews, says on the basis of what has proceeded and God’s grace for us in the present, we are to do some things, none of which make us spiritual, but some of those actions make us less carnal, and some allow the Holy Spirit to manifest His life through us unhindered. As we leave this study, let’s hold in our minds at least a partial list of those things we are to do. We will look at the details in lessons to come, as the Lord allows.

If we are gong to lay aside weights and sins, 
we will have to know what they are, and how to do it. 
If we are going to run a race with endurance, 
we will have to know what the race is, 
its goals and how to develop endurance
© Clyde White, Austin TX, 1998