15-Life in the Kingdom of God -Citizenship and Being a Disciple of Jesus
By Colleen Donahue
IT'S ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIP
1. How do Kingdom of God citizens gain a true knowledge of God?
1 John 5:20
It's Jesus that gives us the understanding so that we can know God. Therefore everyone in God's family is a disciple of Jesus. In the Jewish world, when a man turned 30 years old he could begin sharing God's truth and inevitably he would gain a following. And from that following there would be individuals who would leave all to participate in the life of that rabbi's teaching. We don't have this today in quite the same way but it's nonetheless as real. Once we commit ourselves to a relationship with Jesus we commit ourselves to study his words, obey his commands, and travel with others doing the same through a local body of believers.
2. All disciples of Jesus have Christ's Spirit indwelling their own. Why is this imperative for us?
1 John 2:26-27
This means that even the youngest disciple has Christ's Spirit within them guiding and guarding them so that they stay walking in the truth. Even those disciples in parts of the world where Bibles are scarce have this living Word within them to keep them on track! All we need to do is listen and obey.
3. Kingdom of God citizens are first and foremost disciples or followers of Jesus. In these verses Jesus gives us three commands. What are they?
In these same verses he gives us one promise repeated twice.
Finding true rest for our souls (our minds, will and emotions) will only come when we come to Jesus, learn from Him and take on the work that HE wants us to do -- not what WE want to do.
4. Jesus gives us another command in John 15 and then tells us how we are to do it.
What will be the reward for doing so?
5. Who can enter the rest of God?
The writer of Hebrews tells us that the rest of God is available to everyone. It's the rest that comes to our souls when we see that Jesus has made us right with God and we no longer have to strive and struggle to be good enough to be part of God's family. We are free to just have relationship with our Father and to relax in his presence. This has been done for everyone but only those who reach out with the hand of faith to take hold of this truth will actually enter into God's rest.
6. In the Kingdom of God everything is about having a relationship with the King. Where were the Pharisees trying to find the life of God?
A person can study the scriptures diligently and even get a degree in theology but if they refuse to come to King Jesus where all scripture points, then they will never receive real life here on earth or eternal life after this time on earth.
7. Love is at the heart of the Kingdom of God because remember the King Father is love itself. So as disciples of Jesus, when we love the King Father and declare Jesus as the Son of God what happens to us?
1 John 4:7-10, 13-16
And because we now have God abiding in us by his Spirit, what does this enable us to do?
1 John 4:19-21
8. Why do disciples want to obey Jesus?
John 14:15 / 1 John 2:3-6
God has put in us a love for Him and His Son. Therefore, because we love the Father and the Son, this love is perfected in such a way that we know and believe what they say and ask of us. And thus out of love and respect for our King we do as He asks.
9. Our love for the Lord Jesus and our love for each other should be our top priority. In these verses Jesus is speaking through John in a revelation and talking about the Church in Ephesus. Jesus commended them about many things they were doing but He had one major complaint against them. What was it?
And as we have seen from other examples, Jesus gave them the opportunity to repent or change their ways before more drastic action would need to be taken.
COUNTING THE COST
10. Jesus tells us up front that there is a cost to following Him. What three things will we have to do to follow Jesus?
And what will be the reward for doing so?
11. Jesus is worth leaving everything behind for. It's what Peter, James and John did.
Jesus is worth everything that we have to give him and this woman recognized that while Christ's own disciples didn't!
12. For anyone calling themselves a disciple of Jesus what will it mean for them on a daily basis?
So a litmus test of any true disciple will be if we come, listen and then do what he tells us! This alone will build a solid foundation in our life.
13. After we have been around Jesus for awhile, what do we start to see about ourselves?
14. How are disciples of Jesus made holy so that they can be vessels for Christ's Spirit to indwell? We get our answer by listening in on Jesus praying to his Father out loud.
God's word is truth. Jesus was called both the "living Word of God" and He said of Himself, "I am the way, the truth and the life." He was about to give his life as the final sacrifice to atone for our sins. And therefore this "living Word of truth" -- Jesus---is the only way that we can be transformed into vessels fit to house His Spirit. There can be no "do it yourself" clean up jobs for Kingdom of God citizens.
15. What do we become as we abide in Him and do as He wants?
To be Christ's friend and a member of God's family is a great privilege because he confides in us and makes sure we know all that the Father wants us to know.
16. Disciples can and do fail Jesus under great pressure. Peter denied Him three times the night Jesus was captured. But Jesus is very gracious and he always gives us a chance to get back on track with Him.
For each time Peter had denied Jesus, he was given the opportunity to answer the question, "Do you love me?"
17. Because Jesus does only what His Father wants him to do, what does he find necessary at times in our training?
These verses in Chapter 3 of Revelations were addressed to those in the church of Laodicea. What had they done that Jesus asked them to repent of?
They had become a lukewarm, indifferent church and that was something that God found nauseating (vs 16). These disciples, once on fire for Jesus, had grown complacent --- maybe without realizing it. The abiding Jesus had been relegated to a new place in their lives!
18. This verse - Revelation 3:20 - is usually quoted for non-Christians. But Jesus was actually speaking to members of this church! It shows that disciples of Jesus can drift away from Him and then wake up one day to find Him outside their life and not inside where He belongs. Therefore because God watches over all of us in His kingdom what will he do?
And while all discipline is painful, what can we be certain of?
19. As Christ's disciples, what does Jesus expect us to do?
I love the picture these verses give us. When Jesus had ascended into Heaven, scripture tells us that "he sat down at the right hand of God." So as you and I are walking through our lives here on earth we have Jesus at the Father's right hand leaning in to talk with Him about the things we are doing on earth. When you and I ask the Father in the authority of Jesus' name for some aspect of kingdom ministry, then Jesus unites with us in our prayer and the King Father sets in motion the answer to it!
20. How does a disciple produce fruit for the Kingdom of God?
So, contrary to what we might think, it's not all of our striving and doing that will produce fruit for God. Rather, it will come naturally from having a deep relationship with Jesus.
21. To you and I it may seem impossible to live and act like Jesus did in this world. The early believers felt this way too. What does the Apostle Peter assure us of?
2 Peter 1:3-4
And so in light of this, what is our responsibility as Christ's disciple?
2 Peter 1:5-10
22. Disciples of Jesus are told by Him that we are to receive from Him everything that we'll need to serve him. In these verses Jesus specifies three things.
A. Gold refined by fire speaks of an unshakable faith.
B. White robes to clothe us speaks of the righteousness of Christ to cover our shame and nakedness before the Father and ...
C. Salve to anoint our eyes speaks of the Holy Spirit opening the eyes of our hearts so that we can understand and know God the way He really is.
23. What is the one thing disciples need to be concerned with?
It's natural for us to get working for Jesus but Jesus never wants our work at the expense of our relationship.
OUR WORK LIVES ON
24. Who did Jesus say would never die?
True disciples of Jesus obey his teaching in contrast to those like the Pharisees who thought they had special privileges because they were children of Abraham. They did what THEY wanted to do even if it disregarded what God was speaking through Jesus whom they had rejected. (See John 8:39-47).
So while true disciples of Jesus will leave this earth as we know it now, they will enter into an eternity with God. Then, at the right time they will return with Jesus to rule and reign over a new heaven and earth that will be created in the future. In this way all disciples will continue to partner with the master carpenter to develop an ever expanding universe. Let's look in the next study at working for God.