THESE ARE THEY WHICH FOLLOW THE LAMB WITHERSOEVER HE GOEST
Elijah said to the crowd at Mount Carmel, “If the Lord be God, follow Him” (1 Ki 18:21). Following comes down to humility, trust and acknowledgement. Once it is determined who is Lord; who is God – then it has been determined who has the lead.
Following is different than directing. When directed, the word is given and the leave to go accomplish the work. When led, they take no steps except those in the places where the leader has gone. They follow in his footsteps. “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour” (Jn 12:26).
Following the Lamb is not to be taken lightly. Essentially, men must forsake control and ownership of their will, comfort, desires, and body.
“And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, ‘Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.’ And Jesus said unto him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.’ And he said unto another, ‘Follow me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.’ Jesus said unto him, ‘Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.’ And another also said, ‘Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.’ And Jesus said unto him, ‘No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.’”
Jesus said to others.
…“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mt 16:24). All personal preferences would have to be abandoned and replaced by “nevertheless, Thy will be done.”
“If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me” (Mt 19:21).
…“Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men” (Mt 4:19). Their work would be of a higher order.
The truth of the Shepherd is this: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (Jn 10:27). Jesus’ sheep will not follow another but will flee from others. And when He gives them other shepherds, those shepherds are tasked with feeding the flock and they themselves with following the Good Shepherd. They never become a replacement. They are never left to follow their own spirits.
Following the Lord is about intimate fellowship with Him and being aware of His leading and will in all things. It involves patient waiting upon Him before you speak, move, and live. Ezekiel spoke for God saying, “Woe unto the foolish prophets that follow their own spirit and have seen nothing” (Ezek 13:3). These are they which would declare the direction to others as though the Lord has led them but alas, they were led by their own whims.
Jesus made it very clear to Peter that it was Peter’s task to follow Jesus and not worry about John. It was also John’s task to follow Jesus. See John 21:15-22
For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the Lord will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rereward. (Isaiah 52:12)
Jesus died in order to deliver us from this present evil world according to the will of God (Gal 1:4). Peter told his listeners, “Save yourselves from this untoward [crooked and perverse] generation” (Acts 2:40). And “true and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their afflictions and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (Jas 1:27).
The posture of the people of God will always be in a stance of fighting, defending, warring, escaping and looking for deliverance. This posture, however, is not done after the flesh and it is not one of defeat. In other words, Christians are not to be known for quitting, running and hiding and neither are they to be known for seeking confrontation or picking fights with those who contradict. Instead the “will of God” for them is “that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men” (1 Pet 2:15).
Their is one account when, after preaching the truth, Jesus was pressed to the edge of a cliff that His oppressors would throw Him headlong to His death, “but He passing through the midst of them, went His way” (Lk 4:30). God had provided a way of escape and His enemies had no power over Him except that which was given from heaven – which at that time was none. Jesus didn’t have to fight, nor did He have to take flight. He simply went His way. This is the manner of His kingdom and a demonstration of His reign.
On the contrary, when Israel came out of Egypt they were to eat in haste and with their loins girded. They left Egypt in haste and in flight and the Lord Himself, as it were, taking them by the hand to pull them out. But this is not the way of things now. When the disciples of Christ find themselves in a place of persecution or in a tempest of temptation or in an arena of opposition – they do not need to flee in haste. They can trust in the Lord to accomplish all His will and for the king of glory to have His way. They can walk through the midst of the enemies as the Lord Himself goes before them and as their God is their rereward.
This is not to say that their won’t be times when the Christians are killed or imprisoned for the gospel’s sake – as many souls under the altar can testify – but it is to say that they do not need to fear and quake at the threats and hands of men. They can go their way boldly and with confidence that the Lord is before them and behind them, whether that place be their death or their deliverance – the Lord is there.
So, fear not, child of God. When it is time to “go out from among them” and “be separate” you can go out boldly and without fear – for the Lord is with you. When you “take flight” or “make haste” it will be to flee TO Jesus not from men and make haste to obtain salvation not to escape the wiles of men. Christ Jesus has been given the kingdom and He is ruling over it well.
Therefore thus saith the Lord God,
“Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.” (Isaiah 28:16)
Hebrews 4:12 (KJV)
The word of God has life-giving capability. Spiritual life is ministered to the one who can receive it. This is life that will affect the whole person. It is life that strengthens the feeble knees, lifts up the hands which hang down, and rouses the downcast soul.
The word of God is not like any other word. It is nothing like the word of men. It is the word by which the gospel is preached (1 Pet 1:25). It is the sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:17). Meaning, the Holy Spirit uses it to defend, convict, and protect men from vain conversation, idle babblings and every imagination that rises up against the truth of God. When the sword comes, life is preserved and imparted for the child of God. Jesus said, “The words which I speak to you are spirit and they are life” for “it is the spirit that gives life” (Jn 6:63). The word of God houses heavenly power.
When we are afraid, frustrated, downcast, or discouraged, look to the Lord and remember His words. They will be to you a wellspring of life to comfort, build up and strongly support you. Consider the patriarch David. He loved the word of God and found great help in his time of need. Here are a few of his expressions from Psalm 119:
“My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word.” (Ps 119:25)
“I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O Lord, according unto thy word.” (Ps 119:107)
“Plead my cause, and deliver me: quicken me according to thy word.” (Ps 119:154)
“Consider how I love thy precepts: quicken me, O Lord, according to thy lovingkindness. Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.” (Ps 119:159-160)
Taste and see that the Lord is good in this. How many of us have found ourselves floundering only to realize that we have neglected the good word of God. Neglect no longer. Gather your manna every morning and eat! Man does not live by bread alone and cannot live before God if he neglects every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. It is more necessary than anything else.
Job “esteemed the words of [God’s] mouth more than [his] necessary food” (Job 23:12). And David preferred them more than sleep saying, “I prevented the dawning of the morning, and…Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word” (Ps 119:147-148).
It is no wonder, then, that those who preach and teach the word of God are held in such high regard. They are as those who bring food to the hunger, water to the thirsty and medicine to the sick.
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” (Isa 52:7)
All of the Bible is about sin and salvation. The primary person is God – the one with Whom we have to do (Heb 4:13). And the primary work is that of Jesus – the Savior of the world (Jn 4:42; 1 Jn 4:14) of Whom God is testifying (1 Jn 5:9; Jn 5:37-39; Rev 19:10).
THE STATE OF FALLEN MAN
- Alienated from God/Separate from Him (Col 1:21; Eph 2:17; 4:17-19)
- Ignorant of God/Darkened in Understanding (Eph 4:17-19)
- Defiled by Sin’s Corruption (2 Pet 1:4; 2:19; Tit 1:15)
- Guilty by Sin’s Consequence (Jas 2:10; Rom 3:19)
- Dead/Blind/Without Strength (Col 2:13; Eph 2:1-5; Rom 5:6)
- Enslaved to a Variety of Lusts and Pleasures (Tit 3:3)
- Void of any good thing or anything profitable God-ward (Rom 3:10-18)
- Under a curse and expectant of the righteous judgment and wrath of God (Gal 3:10-12)
THE EXPECTATION OF FALLEN MAN
The righteousness of God requires that we stand afar off from Him lest we be killed. Just as Adam and Eve were kept from the tree of life while they were in a fallen condition (Gen 3:22-24), so all men have been kept from the tree of life until they are redeemed from the earth (Rev 2:7; 22:1). But if they are not redeemed, they will be utterly destroyed. Indeed, “unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:1-3). Jesus spoke about hell fire (Mt 5:22; 18:9), outer darkness (Mt 8:12; 22:13; 25:30), the lake of fire (Rev 19:20; 20:10,14-15), torment (Lk 16:28) and “everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mt 25:41).
And yet…“this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life” (1 Jn 2:25).
THE WORK OF CHRIST
- Christ partook of a body that He might be a faithful and merciful High Priest (Heb 2:14-18)
- Like a lamb led to the slaughter He was obedient to death (Isa 53:7; Php 2:8)
- In His own body He bore our own sins as He hung on the cross (1 Pet 2:24)
- He was made a curse to deliver men from a curse (Gal 3:13)
- Became sin that men might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor 5:21)
- He condemned sin in the flesh and took it out of the way (Rom 8:3; Ps 103:12; Dan 9:24)
- Made intercession for transgressors (Isa 53:12; Rom 8:34; Heb 7:25)
- He presented His own blood to the Father, in the Holiest of all -heaven itself (Heb 9:24-28; 13:20)
- He defeated death, led captivity captive, and rose to God (Eph 4:8; 2 Tim 1:10; Heb 2:14)
- He ever lives to mediate, make intercession, and purify (1 Tim 2:5; Heb 8:6; 9:15-16; 12:24; Tit 2:14)
THE CALL OF GOD
- God sends a preacher with a message (Rom 10:14)
- God calls us by that message – the gospel (2 Th 2:14)
- God draws us to Jesus (Jn 6:44, 65)
- God opens our hearts to respond to the message (Acts 16:14)
- God grants repentance (2 Tim 2:25; Acts 5:31)
GOD’S PROVISION OF SALVATION
- We are washed from our sins and cleansed from all iniquity (Rev 1:5; 1 Jn 1:9)
- We are given faith to enable us to believe in God in the midst of suffering (Php 1:29)
- We are given an understanding to know God and His kingdom (1 Jn 5:20; Eph 1:18; Heb 6:4)
- We are reconciled to God & brought into fellowship with the Godhead (Rom 5:10; 2 Cor 5:18; 1 Cor 1:9)
- We are freed from the power and guilt of sin (Rom 6:18-22; 8:1-2)
- We are made a new creature (2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15)
- We are given the spirit of adoption until the redemption of the body (Rom 8:15-26)
- We are promised an eternal home in the presence of God (Rev 21:1-8, 22-27; 22:1-5)
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 5:2)
TO “BEAR” MEANS TO CARRY AS A RESULT OF UNION
Frequently the phrase “bear witness” is used concerning those who speak about another; those called upon to testify concerning another. The law says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness” meaning we should not attach something to someone if it is not true. The Lord said of Paul “He is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15).
– carry with you an account of another, if that man is worthy of you joining to them
Jesus, James, Paul and some of the prophets spoke of “bearing fruit.” This is when a tree produces and yields crop or a mother has a child. In both cases the “fruit” is the product of the parent. “A bad tree cannot bear good fruit” and a fig tree cannot bear olives. The fruit is evidence of tree.
– carry fruit that is evidence of your Divine union; bear fruit unto God
Paul once said “Bear with me in a little folly…” (2 Cor 11:1) meaning, be patient and allow me to continue with you. This has to do with withstanding and enabling something to occur…for a time. “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor 10:13). Jesus said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you and bear with you” (Lk 9:41).
– partake of, withstand, endure weakness of others, temptations for a time, sufferings for a time, foolishness for a time.
“As we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man” (1 Cor 15:49).
– This is partaken of something without choice. We must bear the image of Adam and Christ.
To “bear” is to carry a load because you have been joined to someone or something. As a result of who you are and who/what you are joined to, to have added weight. In view of this principle consider these words of our Lord: “Whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Lk 14:27). Joining ourselves to the Lord will involve bearing burdens that are a direct result of our union with Him. There will also be voluntary burdens that we bear because His likeness is in us – He is a burden-bearer. We bear one another’s burdens because we are like Him.
Burdens are heavy. They are loads. They have weight that is in addition to your own weight. To bear another’s burden is to add additional weight to yourself so that their load can be lightened. “Each one shall bear his own load” (Gal 6:5) and when able, bear another’s load and thereby fulfill the Law of Christ.
Jethro saw the great quantity of Moses’ work in judging Israel and advised him to appoint 70 others to judge the smaller matters. He said, “so it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you” (Exod 18:22). The prophets shared the burden of Lord in preaching. They “felt” what the Lord “felt” concerning the people and what was the Lord’s burden became their burden. This is what fellowship is about. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Rom 12:15).
Paul sought to avoid being a burden to the brethren. He worked day and night in an effort to “not be a burden to any of [them]” (1 Th 2:9; 2 Th 3:8). The Judaizers, on the other hand, sought to bind burdens on the Gentile converts that no one could bear (Acts 15:10, 28-29). That is, laws and commandments with no help from God.
Bearing one another’s burden does not mean completely taking it from them but rather bearing it together. Jesus said, “Take My yoke upon you…For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Mt 11:30). In His yoke we learn from Him and take on life together with Him. He shows us how to overcome the world. It is a fellowship that is so sweet that the weight is lightened by His grace and presence alone. Furthermore, this is a yoke with many brethren under it – Jesus being the firstborn. All are carrying each other’s weight because they are joined together.
Jesus is the only one capable to bearing another’s sin. “He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isa 53:12). He “Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Pet 2:24). “So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Heb 9:28).
The Law of Christ is one of bearing another’s burden. It is taking upon you additional weight that will result in greater struggle and pain and suffering – in an effort to care for others. Jesus bore our sin and as a result He was forever marred. He was smitten of God and afflicted. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him. He gave His life as a ransom for many. He was bruised, crushed and pierced through so we could be healed from the penalty and power of sin. He did this so we could be with God forever. He suffered – for us.
BEAR ONE ANOTHER’S BURDENS
Burdens are heavy and we must carry other’s burdens because we are united with them. This is primarily seen in us partaking “of Christ’s sufferings” (1 Pet 4:13). That is, being persecuted by forces in the heavens and in earth as a result of our union with Him. But it also involves us suffering for one another by bearing the burdens of other believers as a result of our fellowship with them. We are filling up “what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church” (Col 1:24).
Jesus once said, concerning the kingdom of God, “Because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities” (Lk 19:17). Bearing the burdens of others makes us stronger as a fellow laborer in the church. It makes us prepared for greater works. It is how we lead and care for others. We do not lord it over we serve others. Jesus said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mt 20:25-28)
Bearing burdens prepares us for bearing the weight of greater work, in a time when we will have greater power. This is how the kingdom of Christ works. This is the Law of Christ. Bear one another’s burdens.
– Pat Woods