Today’s selected reading continues in and concludes the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy. More specifically today’s passage is found in verses nine through twenty-two of the fourth chapter of this New Testament book. “Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me; For Delmas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Tasmania. Only Luke is with me. Take mark, and bring him with thee: for hie is profitable to me for the ministry. And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus. The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words. At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the LORD shall deliver me from every evil work, and will persevere me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (2 Timothy 4:9-18).
“Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletus sick. Do thy diligence to come before winter. Eubulus greets thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Glaudia, and all the brethren. The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen” (2 Timothy 4:19-22).
When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the second epistle written by the apostle Paul drawing to a close. I am convinced if you want to understand the words which are found in this particular portion of Scripture you must needs begin with the opening verses of the chapter. As the fourth chapter of this epistle begins and opens it does so with the apostle Paul charging Timothy—and not only charging him but also charging him before God and the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul charged Timothy before God and the Lord Jesus Christ knowing that God will judge the living and the dead at the appearing of Christ and of the kingdom. Immediately following this the apostle Paul continues to exhort, encourage him as a son in the faith. If there is something I can’t help but think about when reading the words found in the first and second epistle written by the apostle Paul and how the apostle exhorted and encouraged him first and foremost as a son in the faith. In the opening of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul you will find him referring to and addressing him as a true son in the faith while in the opening chapter of the second epistle the apostle Paul refers to him as a beloved son. Pause for a moment and consider the tremendous significance that is found in how the apostle Paul greeted and addressed Timothy four while he would indeed provide practical instruction for him as a faithful minister as the Lord it would be on the basis and foundation of Timothy being a son. The apostle Paul could speak into the life of Timothy and even knew he would receive his words because of the closeness and intimacy that was shared between the two of them. There was undoubtedly a trust, a camaraderie, a respect, a trust and affection that was shared between these two men with the apostle Paul serving as a spiritual father within his life.
If there is one thing I can’t help but think about when reading the words found in these epistles it’s how the apostle Paul was indeed able to speak into the life of Timothy. There is not a doubt in my mind that when the apostle Paul wrote these epistles he knew and understood Timothy would indeed receive the words which he would write and speak unto him. I firmly believe that when the apostle Paul wrote these words unto Timothy he knew he could address him as a father would a son. The one notable and fundamental exception we find here is that the apostle Paul wasn’t Timothy’s biological father. If you turn and direct your attention back to the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find that Timothy was a faithful disciple among the brethren in Lystra, Derbe and Iconium who was well spoken of among them. What’s more is we learn that Timothy’s mother was a Jew while his father was indeed a Greek—something that is truly interesting for when the apostle Paul encountered Timothy he most likely would not have been circumcised. There is something incredibly interesting and unique about Timothy when you take the time to consider it for we only find one mention of his father and the only thing we know about him was that he was a Greek. When the apostle Paul began the second epistle which was written unto Timothy he would speak of an unfeigned faith that was first found in his grandmother Lois, was passed down unto her daughter Eunice—Timothy’s mother—and was now present within Timothy. There is absolutely no mention of any faith within the heart and life of Timothy’s father and I can’t help but wonder whether or not he was even in the picture. I can’t help but wonder if Timothy’s father was in the picture or if he had perhaps run off for one reason or another. Is it possible that Timothy’s father was a Greek but was not a believer and in all reality might have even despised the word, the gospel and name of the Lord Jesus?
I sit here today thinking about the words which are found in the first and second epistles written unto Timothy and get the strong sense the apostle Paul took unto himself Timothy as a spiritual son in the faith. This is something we must needs understand for the more I read the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts, the more I read the different references to Timothy in the various writings and epistles written by the apostle Paul unto the churches and the more I read the words written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy himself the more I get the strong sense that Timothy might very well have been one who although he had a biological father did indeed and did in fact lack an actual father figure. I am absolutely convinced that it is possible to have a biological father—even have a biological father who is present in your life—and yet not have an actual father figure. I firmly believe that it is possible to have a biological father and yet your father does not move or operate in the actual role of a father within one’s life. What makes this truly interesting is that such a reality can not only impact how one relates to God as Father but also impacts one’s own life and whether or not they are indeed able to have a father figure within their life. If I am being honest with you who are reading the words within this writing I would dare say there are those among us—even within our churches—who might very well have biological fathers, and those biological fathers might very well be present within their lives and yet they do not act as a loving father would. I believe there are countless men and women among us within our generation who might very well have biological fathers who are present within their lives and yet they are in their lives in bodily presence only. Such individuals have biological fathers and yet those fathers have not moved nor do they operate in the traditional and true role a father should within the life of their son or daughter.
As I write these words today I can’t help but think about how many men and women among us within our churches have had their relationship with God skewed, marred and directly impacted by whatever relationship they did or did not have with their father. With this being said I would dare say there are countless men and women among us who have a biological father in their lives and yet their biological father was largely absent—whether due to their career, whether due to drinking, whether due to drugs, or perhaps even being given over to the lusts of the flesh. What’s more is I know there are others who have biological fathers and yet they have never met nor have they ever known who their father is. There are men and women whose biological father was never in the picture and they either grew up in a single parent home with the mother raising them or they grew up in a blended home where the mom remarried and they now have a step father. There are others who have a biological father and whose biological father was indeed present within their lives for a certain period of time within their lives, however, something happened where he exited the picture and never returned. I am convinced we would be incredibly naïve to think that whatever relationship we did or didn’t have with our biological father cannot be and was not directly impacted by whatever relationship we did or didn’t have with our father here upon the earth.
I read the words which are found in the first and second epistles written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy and am captivated with the tremendous bond and connection these two men shared. Scripture is entirely unclear as to the age of Timothy when the apostle Paul found him. The only thing we know and learn about Timothy in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts is that his mother was a Jew, his father was a Greek, he was a disciple and he was well reported and spoken of among the brethren. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for there was something the apostle Paul saw in Timothy when he encountered him in Lystra, Derbe and Iconium. There is not a doubt in my mind the apostle Paul did indeed and did in fact see something in the life of young Timothy that made him want to bring him with him on his missionary journeys. Perhaps the apostle Paul saw Timothy and recognized the tremendous need for a male and father figure within his life. With this being said I find it necessary to pause for a moment and speak to just how truly wonderful and beautiful the spiritual body of Christ truly is. If you read and study the Scripture you will find concerning the spiritual body of Christ that it not only offers and affords men and women that which they did not have within their lives but it also provides them with abundantly more than what they had within their lives. What is astonishing about this particular reality is if you read Scriptures you will get the strong sense that within the spiritual body of Christ it is possible to have spiritual mother(s), spiritual brother(s), spiritual father(s) and spiritual sisters in the bond of the Lord Jesus Christ. What’s more is that within the four gospel narratives we find Jesus emphatically declaring that anyone who loves mother, or father, or brother, or sister, or son or daughter more than him is not worthy of Him. Not only this but when you read the four gospels you will find the account of Simon called Peter emphatically declaring unto the Lord Jesus how they had forsaken and abandoned all for Him. There is also the incredible reference within the four gospel narratives about Jesus’ mother and brethren being outside the house desiring to speak with Him and His declaring that his mother and His brethren were those who did the will of His Father which was in heaven.
It is with this in mind I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to just how critical and crucial the spiritual body of Christ truly is. There is not in my mind the spiritual body of Christ provides and offers the individual members—not only community but also family. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand concerning the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ it’s that at the very heart, at the very core and foundation of it is both community and family. We know that family was the first institution created within Scripture as God would first create Adam, would then take from Adam and create Eve and then Eve would conceive and give birth to Cain first and then Abel. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for within Scripture family and community are two of the most powerful and prominent themes found from Genesis to Revelation. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it brings us face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the importance of both family and community. Having said this I firmly believe that within the spiritual body of Christ we not only find fellowship, community and relationship but we also find family and the bond that comes with it. What’s more and what we must needs realize is that the reality of the spiritual body of Christ as family as well as the spiritual body of Christ as community is not immediately recognized by those who begin joining a local church. IN order to truly experience and enjoy the fellowship and relationship of community and family within the spiritual body of Christ one needs to put themselves out there and invest themselves in the other members of the spiritual body. I have long been convinced the body of Christ and its individual members is like a puzzle with each piece and member of the body being called to be joined together and connected to at least two other members.
At this particular juncture in this writing I find it absolutely necessary to first and foremost draw your attention to the words which are found in the second and fourth chapters of the New Testament book of Acts. Moreover I am convinced we must also look into and consider the words which are found in the twelfth and thirteenth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints of Corinth as well as the words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome. Consider if you will the following words which are found in these passages of Scripture and see if you can begin to recognize the community and family aspect and elements which are found in the midst of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ:
“And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, Be saved from this perverse generation. Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as those who were being saved” (Acts 2:40-47).
“Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:32-37).
“And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch. Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly. And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them. Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed” (Acts 5:12-16).
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or minister, let us use it in our ministers; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness” (Romans 12:1-8).
“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. Therefore, If your enemy is hungry feed him; if he is thirst, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:9-21).
“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant: You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills” (1 Corinthians 12:1-11).
“For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also iS Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body, is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body, is it therefore not of the body? If the whole border were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as he pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Corinthians 12:12-26).
“Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all p Orpheus? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:27-31).
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; loves does not parade itself, is not puffed; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are confuse, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understand as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:1-13).
Having brought to your attention each of these passages of Scripture I find it necessary to call your attention to the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the fourth chapter of the epistle written unto the saints which were at Ephesus. Consider if you will the following words which are found in this chapter beginning with the first verse of this chapter:
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to k eep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says: When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men. (Now this, He ascended—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 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 of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—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” (Ephesians 4:1-16).
It is absolutely necessary and imperative when we read passages such as these we recognize that at the very heart and center of the spiritual body of Christ is community and family. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for there is something truly special about the spiritual body of Christ and how it was designed and intended on being a source of both community and family for the individual members who are a part of it. With this being said we must understand that the spiritual body of Christ offers and affords each individual member with spiritual brothers and sisters in abundance. Not only this but the spiritual body of Christ offers and affords each member with an abundance of spiritual mothers and fathers as well as those who could be considered as spiritual grandparents. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it brings us face to face with the fact that whether or not your biological father was or wasn’t in the picture for you there are spiritual fathers which are in abundance and readily available in the body of Christ. Not only this but there are spiritual sisters and brothers who are available within the body of Christ—regardless of whether or not you had biological sister(s) or brother(s) in your life. In addition to this the spiritual body of Christ offers and affords spiritual sons and spiritual daughters in abundance. With this being said I would dare say that we as the members of the spiritual body of Christ must needs move and operate one with another as brothers and sisters—and not only as brothers and sisters but also as fathers and mothers and sons and daughters. This is something which was alluded to by the apostle Paul when writing unto Timothy in the fifth chapter of the first epistle: “Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity”(1 Timothy 5:1-2).
In returning to the four gospel narratives written about the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ I am absolutely convinced there is a great need for us to recognize certain distinct realities which were presented to us by the Lord Jesus. When speaking unto His disciples Jesus emphatically declared that anyone who loves mother, or father, or brother, or sister, or son, or daughter more than Himself they were not worthy of Him. Simon called Peter would speak unto the Lord Jesus concerning everything he and the other disciples abandoned, forsook and left for the sake of walking with and following the Lord Jesus. It would be in response to these words spoken by Simon called Peter Jesus would speak of all they would gain in this life and in the next—and would gain in abundance. It was Jesus Himself who declared that anyone who abandoned mother, father, brother, sister, son, daughter, land, houses and the like for His sake and for the gospel would in turn gain a hundred-fold and so much more in this life and in the next. What’s more is that in addition to this we find an account in the gospels of Jesus’ mother and brethren being outside the house where Jesus was seeking to speak with Him. When it was told Jesus His mother and His brethren desired to speak with Him He would first ask who were His mother and His brother and would then turn to the disciples and stretching forth His hand unto them would declare that these were His mother and his brethren—those who did the will of the Father which was in heaven. It is with this in mind I invite you to first consider the following words which are found in the four gospels concerning loving father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter and the like more than Jesus Himself. Consider if you will the following words which are found within the gospels and the words which Jesus spoke unto His disciples:
“Therefore whoever confesses me before men, him I will also confess before my Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies me before men, him I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter in law against her mother in law; and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than mine is not worthy of me. And he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:32-39).
“Now great multitudes went with Him. And he turned and said to them, if anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple. Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Luke 14:25-35).
It is within these passages of Scripture we find Jesus emphatically declaring that those who love father or mother more than Him was not worthy of Him. Jesus would also declare that He who loves son or daughter more than Him was not worthy of Him. It is in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke we find him declaring that if anyone came to Him and did not hate their father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even their own life for His sake could not be His disciple. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for when it comes to walking with and following the Lord Jesus we must needs recognize that doing so will require us to love no family member more than Him—regardless of whether or not those family members are biological or not. This is something we must needs recognize and and understand for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful and powerful truth surrounding the need for us as the saints of God and those who seek to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus to recognize that we have indeed been called to love nothing and no one more than Jesus. I would love to know what it was like for Timothy who was perhaps close to his mother and perhaps even his grandmother who were women of faith. What was it like for Timothy to leave these two family members who I am sure he was incredibly close to that he might begin stepping into and fulfilling the call of God which was upon his life? What was it like for Timothy to abandon and forsake his mother, his grandmother, his home and perhaps even his land that he might accompany the apostle Paul and those who were with him for the sake of the word, the gospel and the name of the Lord Jesus? This is something we have to acknowledge for it brings us face to face with the incredible truth surrounding our walking with and following the Lord Jesus and how doing so does in deed require a completely different outlook on our family dynamic. Consider how Simon called Peter was married and how he left his own wife for the sake of walking with and following the Lord Jesus wherever He went.
Having said this I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the Synoptic gospels which describe the words which Simon called Peter spoke and declared unto the Lord Jesus concerning all they had left, forsook and abandoned for the sake of walking with and following Him. Each of the synoptic gospels presents us with the account and exchange between Simon called Peter and Jesus when he declared and spoke of everything he had abandoned and forsook for the sake of walking with and following the Lord Jesus. This is something which warrants strong consideration for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful reality of how much we gain—not only for making the decision to walk with and follow Jesus but also to join the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ. What’s more is that we must understand that our decision to walking with and following the Lord Jesus not only means that we experience relationship and fellowship with Him but it also means we experience fellowship and relationship with others who are also walking with and following Him. I am absolutely convinced that our walking with and following the Lord Jesus also means that we must—and get the privilege to—walk with and fellowship with others. The decision to join the spiritual body of Christ and become a member of the larger spiritual body of Christ does indeed and does in fact mean that we walk with and fellowship with others. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it reveals just how much we gain when we make the decision to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus. It is when we choose to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus we are able to be men and women who enjoy and experience fellowship, relationship and community with brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers and the like. Consider now if you will the following words which are found in the Synoptic gospels beginning with the gospel written by the apostle Matthew:
“Then Peter answered and said to Him, See, we have left all and followed you. Therefore what shall we have? So Jesus said to them, Assuredly I say to you that in the reservation, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands for my name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first” (Matthew 19:27-30).
“Then Peter began to say to Him, See, we have left all and followed you. So Jesus answered and said, Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for my sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first” (Mark 10:28-31).
“Then Peer said, See, we have left all and followed you. So He said to them, Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life” (Luke 18:28-30).
There is a great need to pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful reality of the reward and exchange for abandoning and forsaking all for the sake of walking with and following the Lord Jesus. There is a great need for us as the saints of God and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ to realize and understand absolutely everything we gained when we made the decision to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus made Simon called Peter and the other disciples very much aware of the fact that walking with and following Him—even if it cost them houses, land, and even family—would also mean they would gain a hundred fold more in this life. Jesus would indeed speak of their inheriting eternal life for doing it, however, it is imperative we recognize and understand that there is a reward in this life for abandoning, forsaking and leaving everything behind for the sake of walking with and following Him. In all reality Abraham was and is an Old Testament example of what it means to abandon and forsake everything for the sake of walking with and following the living God. It was the living God who appeared unto Abraham and commanded him to leave his land, his family, his house and all that he knew that he might walk before and with him. What’s more is that when you think about the call of Abraham in Ur of the Chaldeans you will find that when the living God spoke unto him and invited him to abandon and forsake everything that he might walk with and before him He also gave him the promise that he would not only bless him but would also make him a blessing. Pause for a moment and consider everything the Lord blessed Abraham with for simply obeying His voice and invitation to abandon and forsake everything. It was the life of Abraham which would also preach the gospel in the days of the Old Testament for he would be invited to do the very same thing the disciples and others within the gospels were invited to do—namely, abandon and forsake everything that he might walk with and before the living God. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis beginning with the first verse:
“Now the LORD had said to Abram: Get out of your country, from your family, and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. So Abram departed as the LORD had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So they came to the land of Canaan. Abram passed through the land to the place of Sychem, as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh. And the Canaanites were then in the land. Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, To your descendants I will give this land. And there he built an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him. And he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD. So Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south” (Genesis 12:1-9).
The narrative of Abraham is something we must needs recognize and understand for although he was instructed and invited to get out of his country, leave his family and from his father’s house and journey to a land that he would be shown he would receive a tremendous promise as a direct result. Abraham would indeed leave his country, his family and his father’s house and as a direct result of this the living and eternal God promised him that He would make of him a great nation, would bless him and make his name great and that he would be a blessing. Moreover the living God also declared that he would bless those who blessed him and cursed those who cursed him and that all the families of the earth would be blessed. This is something we dare not miss and lose sight of for we see in and through Abraham an Old Testament example of the gospel which is found in the New Testament. Through Abraham we see a powerful picture of one who was willing to leave and abandon everything to walk with and follow the living God. What’s more is that not only dId Abraham walk with and follow the living God but he would also worship and serve Him calling upon His name and would obey His voice whenever he would speak to him. With this being said there is another Old Testament example that preaches the gospel and the words of Jesus in which men and women are invited to leave their country, leave their father’s house and to walk with and follow the living and eternal God. In the Old Testament book of Ruth we find a Moabite woman who married a Jewish man who would ultimately die in the land of Moab in a country that was not his own. Naomi—Ruth’s mother in law—as well as Orpah Ruth’s sister in law would lose both of their husbands and would all become widows in roughly the same span of time. It would be after the death of Naomi’s husband and her two sons she would receive a report that there was bread in Bethlehem and in the land of Judah. As a direct result of this she would depart from the land of Moab and would originally be accompanied by both Orpah and Ruth. Naomi initially asked them both to abide and remain in the land of Moab rather than accompanying her to a land that was not their own. What Scripture reveals is that Orpah would heed the words of Naomi, however, Ruth would make the conscious and deliberate decision to continue on with Naomi declaring that her people would be her own people and her God would be her God:
“Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion—Ephrathites of Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to the country of Moab and remained there. Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons. Now they took wives of the women of Moab: the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth. And they dwelt there about ten years. Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died; so the woman survived her two sons and her husband. Then she arose with her daughters in law that she might return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the LORD had visited His people by giving them bread. Therefore she went out from the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah. And Naomi said to her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother’s house. The LORD deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The LORD grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband. So she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. And they said to her, Surely we will return with you to your people. But Naomi said, Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Are there still sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? Turn back, my daughters, go—for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I hope, if I should have a husband tonight and should also bear sons, would you wait for them till they were grown? Would you restrain yourselves from having husbands? No, my daughters, for it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD has gone out against me. Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother in law, but Ruth clung to her. And she said, Look your sister in law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister in law. But Ruth said: Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me. When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she stopped speaking to her. Now the two of them went until they came to Bethlehem. And it happened, when they had come to Bethlehem, that all the city was excited because of them; and the women said, Is this Naomi? But she said to them, Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the LORd has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me. So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabites her daughter in law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. Now they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest” (Ruth 1:1-22).
There is another Old Testament example of the gospel being manifested in the life of one who was willing to abandon everything there knew for the sake of walking with and before the living God. In the nineteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Kings you will find the narrative of Elijah and Elisha and how the living and eternal God instructed Elijah to anoint Elisha to serve as prophet in his place after he departed. The account goes on to describe how Elijah came unto the place where Elisha was plowing with oxen in the field and cast his mantle upon him. Immediately when Elisha recognized what had happened he entreated Elijah to first allow him to kiss his mother and father goodbye and he would then walk with him. Elisha would go on and say farewell to his mother and father unsure if he would ever see them again and then used the plowshares as wood for a sacrifice and would take an oxen and offer a sacrifice in the sight of the living God. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the nineteenth chapter of this Old Testament book of First Kings:
“Then the LORD said to him: Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria. Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king of Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place. It shall be that whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill; and whoever escapes the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill. Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him. So he departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Then Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him. And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah, and said, Please let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you. And he said to him, Go back again, for what have I done to you? So Elisha turned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them and boiled their flesh, using the oxen’s equipment and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah, and became his servant” (1 Kings 19:15-21).
What makes this truly intriguing when you take the time to think about it is when you consider the fact that Abraham, Ruth and Elisha are all Old Testament examples of those who left everything they knew that they might walk with and before the living God. Abraham would leave his country, his father’s house and everything he knew that he might journey unto the land which the living God would show him. Ruth would leave her country, her land, her mother’s house, her family and everything she knew that she might cling to and accompany Ruth unto the land of Judah and to the town of Bethlehem. Ruth was willing to allow Naomi’s people to be her people and Naomi’s God would be her God. Elisha was willing to depart from his mother and father’s house and accompany Elijah and be his servant. What we must needs recognize is that despite the fact these individuals left everything they knew that they might pursue something greater than themselves they would receive so much more in this life. Abraham would not only be blessed beyond measure but he would also be given the son of promise who was Isaac as a lineage would be created in the earth of a people who belonged to the Lord. Ruth would dwell in the land of Judah and would not only remarry Boaz but would also give birth to a son called Obed who would be the grandfather of David king of Israel. Elisha would walk with accompany Elijah and would see him when he departed from this world and would pick up his mantle which was left behind. As a direct result of this he would receive a double portion of the spirit that was upon Elijah. Oh this is something we must needs recognize and understand for none of these individuals loved their lives and even their land, their country and their family members so much they weren’t willing to abandon everything for the sake of something far greater than themselves.
We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for when we think about the call to not love mother, or father, or brother, or sister, or husband, or wife, or land, or country, or house more than Jesus we are able to make the conscious and deliberate decision to walk with and follow Him. Simon called Peter declared unto Jesus that they had left and abandoned everything for the sake of walking with and following Jesus. It was Jesus who would respond by declaring unto Simon the mystery of the body of Christ—namely that they would gain mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, lands, houses and the like in this life. The Lord Jesus would reveal unto Simon called Peter the reward for walking with and following Him and abandoning everything for the sake of doing so. This is something we must needs realize and recognize for when we think about the spiritual body of Christ we encounter something orchestrated and ordained by the living and eternal God whereby men and women can experience fellowship, relationship, community and family. The spiritual body of Christ—even the church itself—is more than simply a church building where we gather together once or twice a week to experience fellowship with others. In the days of the early church they did more than simply meet in Solomon’s porch and meet in the Temple for they would also meet from house to house as people would open their homes. Not only this but during the days of the early church they would enjoy and experience fellowship and community with others who would indeed become like family unto them. In all reality this is precisely what the spiritual body of Christ should be for those who are members of it—a family whereby we obtain mothers, brothers, sisters, fathers, sons and daughters in this life. What’s more is Jesus didn’t merely declare unto Simon he would gain so much more in exchange for everything he and the other disciples had abandoned but he would declare they would receive a hundred fold more than what they had abandoned and forsaken. Consider the spiritual body in which you have been planted and how much you have to gain by simply being part of the community and enjoy fellowship with the members of the body of Christ.
As I bring this writing to a close I must needs return to the Synoptic gospels and the accounts of Jesus being in the house and his mothers and brethren being outside seeking to speak with Him. There would be one who would come unto Jesus with the message that His mother and his brethren desired to speak with Him and Jesus’ response reveals something we must needs understand about the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus’ words unto this man who came unto Him not only demonstrates who His mother and brethren are but also reveals who the brethren within the body of Christ truly are. It is in this particular exchange Jesus emphatically declares that those who do the will of his Father in heaven were his mother and his brethren. What we must needs understand is that these words which Jesus spoke wonderfully and powerfully demonstrate the incredible reality of the spiritual body of Christ being those who did the will of the Father and those who were truly brethren one to another. There is a great need for us as the people of God to truly recognize and understand that we have indeed and have in fact been called to not only do the will of the Father but to also be those who join themselves in community and family with the brethren who make up the body of Christ. With this being said we must also understand that the spiritual body of Christ is indeed made up of men and women who understand their need to be joined and connected to each other in fellowship and relationship. This is something we cannot afford to ignore and miss for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is with this in mind I present you with the following words which are found in the three Synoptic gospels which were written concerning the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ:
“While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. Then one said to Him, Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with you. But he answered and said to the one who told Him, Who is My mother and who are My brothers? And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:46-50).
“Then His brothers and His mother came, and standing outside they sent to Him, calling Him. And a multitude was sitting around Him; and they said to Him, Look your mother and your brothers are outside seeking you. But He answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brothers? And he looked around in a circle at those who sat about him, and said, Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God is my brother and my sister and my mother” (mark 3:31-35).
“Then his mother and brothers came to Him, and could not approach him because of the crowd. And it was told Him by some, who said, Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you. But he answered and said to them, My mother and my brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it” (Luke 8:19-21).
When we read the two epistles written unto Timothy we get the strong sense that he was not only a true son in the faith to the apostle Paul but he was also a beloved son to the apostle. There is a great need for us to recognize and pay close attention to this for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the fact that Timothy left his mother, his grandmother and perhaps even his father to walk with and accompany the apostle Paul. As a direct result of doing so he would not only step into and begin walking in what he had been called to do but he would also experience the fellowship, the relationship, the community and family that is found in the spiritual body of Christ. I am convinced he experienced this in Lystra, Derbe and Iconium, however, it would take on a whole different level when he would abandon everything and walk with the apostle Paul and those who accompanied him on his apostolic and missionary journey. Timothy would become a fellow soldier, a fellow laborer and even a fellow minister of the gospel. This is something truly captivating and astonishing when you take the time to think about it for it brings us face to face with the absolutely wonderful and powerful truth surrounding community and family as found and being manifested within the spiritual body of Christ. It is within the spiritual body of Christ we find and experience community and family—even if we perhaps did not experience such realities within our own home, childhood and upbringing. The question we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we can and will be those who will give ourselves to the spiritual body of Christ and those who would indeed commit ourselves to fellowship, community, family and relationship with the members of the spiritual body of Christ within the earth during the days in which we are living.