Hungry Disciples!

1 John 2: 6

Everyone claiming to be a disciple of Jesus Christ should be experiencing the reality of 1 John 2: 6:
"He that saith he abideth in him [Christ] ought himself also to walk even as he walked."

It is God's will for Christians to live as Christ lived.
This is not a casual observation about Christian living.
It is the dynamic standard which produces a vital witness for Christ to lost men and women.

Sometimes, the people of the world are wiser in human affairs than the people of God.
The agnostic, H.G. Wells, said in his Outline of History,
"Not long after Jesus Christ died, those who claimed to follow Him gave up preaching
His revolutionary principles
."

His description, "revolutionary" was absolutely right.
The church has held on to the structures and many of the doctrines, but it has lost the core of truth
that Jesus taught.
Today, you can find a lot of "talkers" of Christianity, but few "walkers."
Many have been disillusioned by this contradiction between faith and life.

Some Christians say that the answer is in "good sound, Bible teaching."
That is true, but that is not enough.
Never in the history of the church have there been so many Bible conferences,
radio and TV Bible studies, and Bible study books, and never in all history could you
turn on your TV or radio and hear so many outstanding Bible preachers and teachers.

We have the opportunity of following the life and learning the teachings of Paul.
But where are the Pauls of today?
Where are the people like Paul and his companions who endured cold and shipwreck
and robbers for the sake of the gospel, and then thanked God for the stripes
that rip open their backs?

We have many sincere servants of God and many great preachers.
But where are those who can say with Paul that we have ceased not to warn men and women
night and day with tears?
People like this are difficult to find, if not impossible.

Why?
I believe the reason is that we have separated our Bible beliefs from our daily living.
Paul never did this.
We want to serve the Lord, and we say, "Lord, I am ready to serve if only I can find my place
in Your service
."
Then, in not finding it, we are frustrated.
What is wrong?

God is far more concerned about our finding our place in Christ, Himself than our place in His service.
The essential thing in Christian living is not where you are going or what you are doing,
but it is in Whose strength are you living.
You may go across the ocean, or just across the street to serve the Lord,
but in Whose strength are you going?

Here is how the Apostle Paul went about it.
In Acts 20:19 we read of his "serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears,
and temptations (trials) which befelled me by lying in wait of the Jews.
I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you,
and have taught you publicly, and from house to house
."

Notice the words: "With all humility of mind."
Paul does not say he is serving the Lord with great preaching, literature distribution,
tremendous television campaigns, or …
Paul said that he served the Lord with many tears and trials

In the first place, discipleship is a matter of the heart.
Unless the heart is right, everything else is wrong.
Our hearts need to experience a deep hunger and longing for God.

Hunger for God is the genuine mark of a disciple.
It confirms to me that I am His child, and that He is working in me.
What I do for God does not necessarily prove that I am a disciple.
I may try to fulfill the terms of the Sermon on the Mount.
I may live ruggedly and sleep on the floor, but these things do not make me a disciple.

The way I know I am a disciple of Jesus is by having an intense, insatiable hunger
for the crucified Lord of Glory.
If this is your experience, and if you yearn for deep fellowship with your Saviour and Lord,
and if you desire to know Him intimately and to walk with Him, though you may look like a failure
and have made innumerable blunders, you are well on the road to discipleship.

David was an Old Testament individual who knew God and walked with Him.
Did God say: "David was a man who lived in purity all the days of his life?"
No, God said that David was "a man after my own heart."

So, we see in the Psalms that David had a a hunger for God.
"My heart longeth, yea, fainteth for the living God."
"As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God."
Despite David's failures and backslidings, he was hungry and thirsty for God.

In church history all way back to the beginning, we find that the mark of a true disciple of God
is a hunger to know God and His righteousness.
The man after God's heart is described in Psalm 34 as praising God for all his experiences.
"I will bless the Lord at all times!
His praise shall continue in my mouth.
My soul shall make his boast in the lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears
." (Psalm 34: 1-4)

Verse 10 says, "The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger; but they that seek the Lord
shall not want for any good thing
."

The marks of true disciples of the Jesus Christ is they seek the Lord and they hunger for him
and praise him continually.

Outward marks are often deceptive.
The clever Christian who excels in fluent praying or vigorous preaching, or the one who can answer
all of the theological questions, is not necessarily a disciple.
Nor is it necessarily the one who has sold everything, down to the last shirt,
in an act of "true discipleship."
These things of themselves do not draw us close to God.

The Bible says that God draws near, "unto them that are of a broken heart and saveth them
that are of a contrite spirit."

No discovery of Christian truth will bring more encouragement than this.

Do you remember the parable of Jesus about the two men who came to the temple to pray?
The first one went to the front, and proudly prayed:
"O God, how thankful I am that I am not like that other man!"
He may have remembered the rich man who turned away from Jesus because he had too many
possessions, and then prayed, "God, I think you that I am not like him, either.
No Pharisee would do that!"


But the second man bowed over and beat his breast in agony, imploring: "God, have mercy on me."

God drew near to the one who came with a broken heart and contrite spirit.
This man was saying, "God, you know I am a failure.
You know I am a phony.
I am a sinner!
Have mercy on me."

That man acknowledged his sins, and God justified him.

This conflicts with our human understanding, yet it is one reason why I believe the Bible
for there is no one who would originate salvation in this way -- the way of grace
-- the way of Christ.
This shows us the heart of God.

Except for Christianity, every religion offers a combination of work and reward.
In other words, do this, and you will get that.
So, the average person would reason that if you are good and you live according
to the Sermon on the Mount, and if you ...
Then, you will have great blessings and many good things.
But real blessings comes only by God's way, not man's.

Paul asked the Galatians: "Having begun in the Spirit, will you now continue in the flesh?"
Many Christians are trying to do that.
They might say, "I am saved by grace, but now I must work my way through the Christian life."
This is a serious mistake.
We are saved by God's grace, and by His grace, we must serve.

The Lord is near, not to the successful, but to those who are of a broken heart.
He saves, not the energetic, but those who have a contrite spirit.
"Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart."
(Psalm 37: 4)

The reason we often fail to find the will of God is that we delight in other things.
Christians engaged in evangelism are tempted to delight simply in the adventure of it.
We should be delighting in God.
Or we can delight in the fellowship of the gospel and the enthusiasm we share,
but we should be delighting in the Lord.

If you and I delight in any work for God or in any organization or movement,
discouragement will sooner or later catch up with us.
This is a tragedy.
We should be delighting in the Lord.

Our God is a jealous God, and He will not share His glory with an organization
or a personality or a movement, however spiritual.
This is clearly said in John 5: 44, when Jesus says to disbelieving Jews:
"How can we believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor
that comes from God alone
?"

How can we believe God for great things -- for laborers, for finances, for conversions,
for victories in the lives of Christians when we seek honor from other humans?
While we seek honor for ourselves, or try to advance a program or reputation of a movement
or a preacher, we're building on the fragile merit of men.

The mark of a true disciple of God is his hunger for God, and his goal is God's approval.
When the work is done, we should want to hear God say,
"Well done, thou good and faithful servant."
Day after day, a true disciple of God lives for God and His glory, and seeks it
as the deer craves the water of the brook.

Despite the weaknesses of God's people, there are many today who are hungry for God.
This hunger must be cultivated both by feeding, and by developing its capacity.
God wants all of us, not just our labor for Him or our serving Him or our giving to Him
-- He wants all that we are.

We can get so caught up in activities, even Christian ones, that we lose conscious contact
with God Himself.
He waits silently ready to remind us: "My child, you are too busy to receive My strength from Me."
His Word is still: "Be still, and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10)

The only way to find the necessary power and resources for each day is to quietly wait on God.
Plan for a time each day to be alone with Him.
Learn to delight in Him.
Cultivate a hunger to experience His presence within you.
Without this, your work is just superficial.
With this, our deepest desires will be filled and our discipleship will glorify Him.
We must be thirsty for God, and not be satisfied until we have drunk deep
at the Fountain of Living water.

Many things have blinded our eyes.
A multitude of theological distinctions and religious traditions have made a dichotomy
between the doctrines of God, and an intimate relationship with Him.
But there is hope whenever Christians are hungering for God.
This is the only cause that ultimately counts, the only link that will not be bent or broken
by the ignorance and selfishness of men.
Our real link is not with any organization -- it is only with the living God.

As we humble ourselves at the cross, we shall learn the reality of the power of Jesus
that conquered sin and death.
We shall receive the promise: "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness,
for they shall be filled
." (Matthew 5: 6)


Sermon adapted by Dr. Harold L. White