Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Imitation Of Christ - Different Views

(Please read original article here)

Thy Word Is Truth said:
It is not true for you to assert and state that "There is not a single verse, yes, NOT EVEN ONE VERSE in the bible that says we are to imitate Christ. Are you in shock now? I was, and I re-confirmed the search results by doing searches using a few translations - KJV, NKJV, NASB, YLT, NIV, ESV."


There are many, many verses, just to state a few well known ones:

1Pe 2:21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

Mat 10:38 And whoever does not TAKE HIS CROSS and FOLLOW ME is not worthy of me.

Mar 8:34 And calling the crowd to him with HIS DISCIPLES, he said to them, "If anyone would COME AFTER ME, let him DENY himself and take up HIS CROSS and FOLLOW ME.

Luk 9:23-24 And he said to all, "If anyone would COME AFTER ME, let him DENY himself and take up HIS CROSS DAILY and FOLLOW ME.
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life FOR MY SAKE will save it.

Luk 14:26-27 "If anyone COMES TO ME and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not BEAR HIS OWN CROSS and COME AFTER ME cannot be my DISCIPLE.


Geri aka hungribunni said:
Ok this is my view-

Bro, we don't have to imitate Christ you know why? Paul made it so clear by that statement you put up, and I am going to explain it in one verse - not I who live, but Christ who lives in me. ^.^

We don't imitate Jesus because Jesus lives in us today! We already have the mind of Christ and the Holy Spirit, the helper He has sent us, to teach us all things. =)... Read More

What is needful or us to do is to walk out that precious gift we have in our daily lives. Choosing to align our thoughts with His Word, to discern not based on our emotions but with the Spirit. =)

As He is in this world so are we. =) We don't imitate anymore because He is in us and we are in Him! =D
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Hmm this is my sharing - i feel that when Jesus spoke it was still in the OT context when He reminded people we had to take on His salvation and follow Him, not insisting we can DIY our salvation via Law. Remember He had not died yet so He could not share certain things.

Today when we apply this to our lives from a New covenant perspective, we dun literally hew a cross out of a tree. And neither is He asking to carry our burdens since He did also say my yoke is easy and my burden is light. We no longer carry our crosses, He carried them for us to Calvary. His Cross is light - it is one of a finished work! =D He wants us to stop carrying our heavy hearts and condemnation around, and to take on His Cross and follow in His steps because He has overcome the devil for us already. So deny our need to work out salvation, to overcome the devil by our own imperfect means or justification. Our justification is Jesus, not self.

When we are told to deny ourselves - it is to remind us that it is no longer us who lives but Christ who lives in us. We make decisions no longer based on how we feel, but based on walking out our lives established on the grace He has placed in us. We no longer battle the principalities and powers based on our own might and strength (which stems from pride i feel), but by His Spirit (which stems from obedience.

Taking up our cross and following Him to me, means daring to make decisions not based on how we feel, but making our decisions based on His leading.

We don't know how God leads each one but as a Missionary once told me - not everyone is called to the Missionary field, and we should not feel condemned if we don't. Each of us has a place in the Kingdom, and a different blessing and a different call and a different gift. We should not judge people because we do not know God's leading and will for them. They too have their personal walk. What is important for us is to walk our walk well, to edify those who are down, pray for those we feel need to change and to always turn our eyes upon Jesus.

Carrying the Cross and denying self is not about us taking on our burdens and weakness head on with our own abilities and then being poor too deny self. Denying self is being Christ- conscious not self-consciouss.

I know wealthy people who are not self-centred, but who give lavishly for the overflow of blessings in their lives. I know poor people who are self-centred because they don't trust God will provide if they give, so they hold on to money instead of holding on to the promises of provision by Jesus. By that same matter, I know wealthy people who love money so much, they lose it later because they got greedy on the share market. And poor people who give out of the abundance of God's grace and never worry for lack because He is faithful.

We should not judge the bank account and we should not judge period because God sees man differently than the way we see man. We see the outward appearances and the things in the natural. God sees the heart.

That is why I notice some people who are flled with the grace of God are so blessed financially coz they dun hold on to the money like it is precious to them - They give it away all the time, blessing others and God blesses them with the good things. Who are we to be jealous of them? A friend of mine comes from an incredibly blessed family - financially and in all areas... but they are also an incredible blessing to other people. And God blesses such people because I am sure He knows where their heart and focus is.

Our own jealousy amd smallness of heart, our own self-righteous and judegemental personalities, our own thinking we know God's thoughts about so and so and this person that person... these areas of our human-ness that we have not died to in Christ are the things that really stumble our walk with Him.

Just mew view. Agree or not never mind. I also not out to argue. Shalom =D

hungribunni said...

Just to add - we are worthy of Him because He made us worthy on the Cross.

We can earn as many brownie points, do a lot of good deeds, obey the ten commandmnt and we can still not buy or earn that worthiness.

Jesus was basically scolding the Jews and making His point that unless they take up His salvation, they can never be worthy of Him. He is not asking us to use this passage to judge people unworthy.

BTW, I checked the Lexicon... the word Cross here in Greek implies:

stauros stow-ros': a stake or post (as set upright), i.e. (specially), a pole or cross; figuratively, exposure to death, i.e. self-denial; by implication, the atonement of Christ -- cross.

So even the Lexicon implies that it is referring to the atonement of Christ where we die to self so that Christ lives in us.

It is not saying imitating Christ, but it means accepting that salvation He has offered.

We need to be careful how we interpret the Word.

Jesus is not contradicting the Scripture's constant reminder for us to honour our parents by saying Luke 14:26-27. I dunno what translation you used but the same bit is referred to in Matthew10:37 and it says,

"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me."

He means our love, relationship and obedience for Him is above all other human relationship
and love we share with others. And that we should be prepared that by choosing Christ, sometimes we will meet with family oppositions. But if we bow to these family oppositions and choose to not become Christians, we will not be able to be worthy - as only Christ alone can make us worthy.

We should honour Him above our parents, but it doesn't mean we should disrespect them outright lah. I say this becoz I am aware some Christians use this verse out of context to justify their treatment of their parents who are not Christians. We need to not take it out of context.

The Geneva Study Bible explains this verse in this manner:

Without exception, nothing is to be preferred before our duty to God.

Another commentary (Matthew- Henry's Concise commentary) explains:

The strongest bonds of love and duty, have often been broken through from enmity against Christ.

Sufferings from friends and relations are very grievous; nothing cuts more. It appears plainly, that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution; and we must expect to enter into the kingdom of God through many tribulations. With these predictions of trouble, are counsels and comforts for a time of trial.

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To be honest, I've honestly been trying to see how the verses quoted are talking about imitating Christ. At first it seems so, but when one delves deeper and not just wade on the shallow end, they are not talking about imitating Christ. They, IMHO and I dun wan to argue so this is my POV shalom, are talking about accepting Christ as the only way to redeem ourselves, to make ourselves worthy of His saving grace, about abiding in Him and that even in the face of trials and oppositions to remain in Him.

That without Him we are not worthy, but when we are in Him we are worthy.

If we don't make the personal decision to receive Him, we cannot be worthy of Him.

The whole speech reaches out to the unsaved and not the saved, though it reminds the saved that certain scenarios might come up (such as family opposition and strife due to diff personal views on religion, god, etc) when we decide to follow Him.

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9 comments:

Thy Word Is Truth said...

Hi Stanley,
You said it here and elsewhere asking: "Would you care to explain the meaning of "let him DENY himself and take up HIS CROSS and FOLLOW ME." ?

Let me borrow the words of an unknown saint to explain what Jesus meant when He asked His disciples to follow His example by denying themselves:

"Suppose you have been neglected or unforgiven. You sting with the hurt of the insult from such an oversight, but your heart is happy because you have been counted worthy to suffer for Christ. That is what dying to self is all about. When your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, and your opinions ridiculed, and yet you refuse to let anger rise in your heart or try to defend yourself, you are practicing dying to self. When you lovingly and patiently stand face to face with folly and spiritual insensitivity, and endure it as Jesus did, you have died to self. When you are content with any food, money, clothing, climate, society, solitude, or interruption by the will of God, you have died to self. When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation, record your own good works, or desire commendation from others, you are dying to self. When you can honestly rejoice with a brother who has prospered and had his needs met, and never feel any envy though your needs are greater and still unmet, you have practiced dying to self. When you can receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself, and humbly admit he's right with no resentment or rebellion in your heart, you have died to self. Are you dead yet?"

What did Jesus meant when He said we are to take up OUR cross and FOLLOW Him? Taking up the cross is the the willingness to suffer reproach. Jesus said, as we are His disciples, we must be prepared hearts and minds with the willingness to endure persecution, rejection, reproach, shame, suffering, and even martyrdom for the sake of Christ.


Shalom

Daughter Of Sarah said...

Agreed.

Yet on the same note, we cannot judge any saints if they have it better than us to assume that therefore they are not taking up the cross and following Jesus, and because we are suffering more we are taking up our cross more so than they are.

I would say that PP when he agreed to preach grace in obedience to God, did take on that willingness to endure persecution, rejection, reproach, shame and suffering for Christ no? Have we all not been guilty of judging this brother by assuming what God's view of his character and his ministry is about?

When Paul chose to preach grace of the LORD, he also suffered for the message. Not just physically but mental, emotional, spiritual suffering. When you stand up for a cause that everyone thinks otherwise about, you are open to persecution.

It is not about imitating Christ's suffering on the cross per say, but praying and doing things for fellow saints and unsaved from the victory He has won for us.

None of us can ever imitate Christ, but we can say Christ in me the hope of glory, as Christ is in this world so am I, it is not I who live but Christ who lives in me... and understanding these graces He has given us to undergo trial undergire, we can really walk out in faith and wholeness... not from a sense of unworthiness if I don't be like Jesus.

No we are not called to act like Jesus (from the outside), but to now live in Jesus (from the inside) and let Jesus live through our daily walk with Him - in the thoughts we have, the things we say, the things we choose to do, how we react.

There is a subtle difference between imitating Christ, and living through Him and letting Him live through us.

We no longer have to act when we are.

I don't Stan is saying that we should not do what Christ requires of us to do, but he is questioning where we are coming from where we make our everyday decisions.

Are we working it from the outside or from the inside out? Are we doing it under obligation or under revelation> From a legalistic spirit or from a spirit of grace?

There is only so much we can "act" out. Some people try to do good things but when the going gets tough and they draw from that spirit of must imitate Christ they fail. Because it is of their efforts.

But when we live it out, we do good from the Spirit, not from personal strength or might. We live it out and when the going gets tough, we don't fail because we lean even further on Christ and draw from that Spirit of more than a conqueror... we draw from that resurrected life.

Again, not arguing. This is my view. I respect anyone's personal convictions on the matter. =)

Shalom!

Daughter Of Sarah said...

Just to add-

A friend of mine once asked how come you and your husband can remain in joy even when things go badly? But my joy seems temporal? I really try. I pray, I read the Word... but how come when things go wrong, I just crumble?

This same friend later went through intense trials of the Spirit man.

When she came out of it she told she finally understood what i meant when I told her you need to draw from God, not try.

Geri, I understand now. My joy is not my own. My joy comes from Jesus. My strength is not my own it comes from Jesus. My abilities are not my own they come from Jesus. Jesus is in me. I don't have to try anymore. I know what you mean by receiving it in the Spirit first and then walking it out. I have been trying to walk it out then receive in the Spirit.

This sister had tried to imitate Christ and failed terribly. It was only when she learned that it was no longer she who lived but Christ who lives in her that she started experiencing victory over her circumstances.

Again - this is a sharing so not imposing in any way. I understand we all have diff experience, diff walks. Just wanted to share this joyful revelation she had. =) Shalom!

Daughter Of Sarah said...

saw my typo in the first post - trial under fire not undergire haha =)

Sorry I am typing on the teeny weeny Eepc so I typo sometimes.

Daughter Of Sarah said...

Oops another typo:

"I don't Stan is saying" should be "I don't think Stan is saying" =D

Daughter Of Sarah said...

Summarising my view -

Today, we are obedient not because we are trying to be like Jesus, we are obedient because we are now in Jesus and He is in us.

We walk out from that obedience and live that new identiy out in obedience, not walk in obedience to work that obedience into us or so that we can have that identity.

Kat said...

"And He died for all, so that all those who live might live no longer to and for themselves, but to and for Him Who died and was raised again for their sake"
2 Corinthians 5:15 (Amplified bible)

Angie said...

Well said Geri!

I think what you wrote explains the grace walk & the victory we have in Christ. The freedom He bought us with His precious blood. So that we do not have to carry the 'burden' of the cross and yet live the victory thru Christ in us. ;)

T.W.I.T, i hope you got where Stan was coming from although it might not be the tone that you would want it :p He just wanna 'stimulate' some thinking there ;p If you're still not satisfied, let's fellowship at Stan's stall and we can iron sharpen iron there :)

Today I was at The Nations Hope and Calvin, this marketing director for Full flame; the distribution arm of Reinhard Bonnke's materials for Asia, shared that his pastor, from Cornerstone, was someone who disliked Ps Prince very much. (nothing new? :p) He had alot of qualms about the stuffs PP was preaching. He wrote to PP many times and after several exchanges, (i'm not sure if it was PP or the cornerstone ps who initiated) they met up for a fellowship. 5hours later.. his ps came back telling everyone, 'now i understood what PP is preaching about'. :)

Hallelujah isn't it? :D

(note: the details of the story may not be entirely accurate. most imptly, the 5hrs (no. of grace) and the meet-up was accurate! Also, I now sense a different attitude towards PP from the team. Hopefully it's not because Angie is volunteering there haha :P)

I'm glad the cornerstone ps bothered to find out the truth cos we know of many others who hear say hear say and make discriminating comments about PP. And i'm also glad to hear that PP made the effort to explain the revelations he had with the other senior ps. :)

Let's all remind ourselves that we're in this same journey to the same destination. Let's encourage each other for the greater cause of the kingdom Amen? ;)

"So let's agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don't drag them down by finding fault. Rom 14:19 (The Message)

Stand united, singular in vision, contending for people's (unbeliever's) trust in the Message, the good news, not flinching or dodging in the slightest before the opposition. Your courage & unity will show them what they're up against"
Phi 1:27b (brackets mine) The Message

Daughter Of Sarah said...

Amen Angie and praise God! At the end of the day, if people really get to know him, to speak to him and listen to what he has to say, they will see where PP's focus is upon - Christ and Christ alone. =)