Red-letter Christianity

Note: The following blog was written as a devotional by my friend Dr. David Earley. David and his wife have started a house church in Forest, Virginia that will eventually relocate to Las Vegas, Nevada. I love his perspective on following Christ.

Some time back my wife, Cathy, asked me, “What do you think is the best discipleship curriculum on the market?” Understand that for a time I served as the Director of Discipleship for a large Christian university and prided myself on having read every book on discipleship and disciple-making available at the time. Also understand that Cathy is a very smart lady with a Masters degree in theological studies and Christian Counseling and is a collegiate counseling professor.

“Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, with the book of Acts added in,” I said. “…with a special emphasis on the words written in red ink.”

“Is that it? She said rather unimpressed. “Why?”

“Because,” I said, “if I can get a person living the Gospels and applying the commands of Jesus like the disciples applied them in Acts, I believe I will have made a disciple. And I believe that type of disciple will change the world.”

Obeying Everything Jesus Commanded is Impossible … Without God

Not long ago, I posted this question on Facebook: “What would happen if we began to obey everything Jesus commanded?”

I received many interesting comments. One rebuke came from a former pastor and retired theology professor. He said, “Are you crazy? Obeying everything Jesus commanded is impossible.”

John Piper agrees with that former professor yet, he notes that Jesus left us with hope:

“’With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God’ (Mark 10:25-27). Therefore, the person who sets himself to obey Jesus’ final commission— for example, to teach a rich man to observe the command to “renounce all that he has” (Luke 14:33)—attempts the impossible. But Jesus said it was not impossible. ‘All things are possible with God.’”

Are you depending upon God to give you the grace to fully obey everything Jesus commanded?

Everything Jesus Commanded

About ten years ago I started a practice of reading through the Gospels at least once a year while listing everything Jesus commanded.  I found over 200 imperatives.  I quickly noticed that some of the commands were specific to person and time – “Go into the village ahead of you. At once you will find a donkey tied there, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to Me” (Mt. 21:2). Obviously those are not the commands we all are to obey and teach others. So I dropped them and came up with a list of 100 universal commands that are applicable to all of us who want to be followers of Jesus.

Peter Wittstock lists 125 commands given by Jesus. He combines them into 70 major themes. John Piper states that by including implied commands, (for example, “Blessed are the merciful” implies “Be merciful”) and counting the multiple restatements among the Gospels, he came up with a list of over five hundred commands of Jesus. For the contents of his book he lumped them into categories to come up with 50 chapters.

If that sounds overwhelming to you, start by obeying the three biggies: 1.) The Great Commandment – love God with everything you’ve got and love your neighbor as much as you love yourself (Matthew 22:37-40); 2.) The New Commandment – love one another (John 13:34-35), and 3.) The Great Commission – make disciples who make disciples.

Note: David Earley and his team have felt the call of God to plant a church in heart of Las Vegas. His approach is refreshingly biblical.  Perhaps God will call you to join them in some way in the grand venture.

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  • Bio & Introduction

    Dr. Michael Dean has been the senior pastor at Travis Avenue Baptist Church since 1991, having also served churches elsewhere in Texas and New Mexico. He and his wife Nan are blessed with two married children and three grandchildren. With a keen sense of calling to shepherd the flock of God entrusted to his care, Michael longs to see people become passionate followers of Jesus Christ. His hobbies include long-distance running, golf and hunting.

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