The First Things...
"Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. "But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great." (Luke 6:47-49)
"He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me." (John 14:24)
Read - Understand - Receive - Do
This series of words is very important for those who want to be Jesus' disciples, for they represent both what must and what will happen if one is actually a disciple of Jesus.
When we are first born again and receive God's Spirit after repentance, the first thing that will happen is we will want to want to know the one saved us from the Father's Justice, and who brought us into the Father's love and compassion. For the Son, God's Messiah says that eternal life is to know his Father and himself (John 17:3).
So, how do we get to know the heavenly Father and His Son? The only source to get to know the Father is the scripture, and the Father's greatest, clearest revealing of Himself is His Son, Yeshua or Jesus and his Words are found in the gospels. For who else has said, "For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. "I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me." (John 12:49-50) And again, "So Jesus said, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me." (John 8:28)
And who testified in return about the Son? The Father Himself spoke from heaven and said, "While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!" (Matthew 17:5)
I ask the reader of this article, of who else can these things be said? Of David or Solomon? Of Peter or Paul? No, of only one, the Father's chosen Messiah, His beloved Son. And are David's words Jesus' Words? Are Moses words Jesus' Words? Are Isaiah words Jesus' Words? Are Paul's words Jesus' Words? The simple answer to these questions is No. Jesus' Words are Jesus' Words. Of his Words, he says, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away." (Matthew 24:35) What other person can say that with credibility? Jesus' miracles attest to his credibility, and let no man deceive you otherwise. And letting a man deceive you on this matter includes believing the man when he tells you that this other man or men's words are equal to Jesus' Words. When the clergymen start with, "well, the other writers of the bible also spoke God's words with equal clarity...", you will now have the choice before you on which voice to listen to. You have read Jesus' Words above which rebuke that belief, so now you must choose.
And so, Jesus says that if we love him, we will obey his commandments (John 14:15). Where are Jesus' commandments found? In Ephesians? No. In Romans? No. In James? No. While we ought to listen to those who Jesus chose and trained for over three years and sent out (apostles - see Are Paul's writings faultless?), they will never replace the Master's voice. Like the rest of us, their voices were imperfect and so we should measure their words against Jesus' and when a variance is found, reject that teaching in favor of Jesus' Words on the matter.
And so, we have laid a foundation to support the simple concept listed at the beginning of this article. Read - Understand - Receive - Do. It should be obvious that if we love Jesus, we will want to know him and to get to know him, we would read his Words. And yet those who take the label christian are generally ignorant of Jesus' Words and teachings. They seldom read Jesus' Words themselves but rather trust in someone else to understand Jesus' Words. They know some basic facts about Jesus that they are fed by the religious system. And since their religious leaders are the primary voice they are listening to, they cannot at the same time make Jesus' voice the main voice they are listening to. Sadly, the men up on the stage - those who delight in being the people's leaders and teachers, and that in spite of the fact that Jesus plainly says don't do that (Matt. 23:8-12) - are in fact the shepherds/pastors of the christians, not Messiah Yeshua, the Good Shepherd. See What is a chritian?
If we love someone, we will want to communicate with them. And the method of communication that God has ordained for getting to know Him is to read his Son's Words, seek to understand them, receive them into our heart, and do them.
If we love Jesus, we will want to know him and the only way to know him who is the Way is to read his Words. Are you, reader, regularly reading his Words? Or are you stuck in the traditions of men and reading your bible as if it were all Jesus' Words, as irrational as that is? (See Is the Doctrine of Biblical Inerrancy True? ) Or are you someone who doesn't even have much interest in reading Jesus' Words, which fact is bore out by your not reading them regularly? Oh, we can say, "I love Jesus" until we are blue in the face, but if we are not even trying to read his words, then we betray the fact that we do not love him, and thus we don't want to get to know him.
The next step is seeking to understand his Words. If we are willing to read Jesus' Words on a regular basis, then we ought to be seeking to understand what he means when he says something. There are many who read Jesus' Words on a regular basis who are reading his Words like they would read a text book on which they will be given an exam. This is not seeking to understand his Words, but rather to store them in one's mind. This is the wrong focus as well, as Jesus says we need to seek his Father with all our heart, not mind - see How to know God by reading the scripture - and to be a little children in our faith in him. We can only understand Jesus' Words with the help of the Father's Spirit, who is the enabling teacher of our spirit (John 14:26). If we yield to him, and have a humble and contrite heart, we will understand Jesus' teachings over time...more and more as we allow his Words to wash us clean and bring us closer to his Father.
Once we are wanting to read his Words, and seeking to understand them with the proper motive, then it is time to receive them into our hearts. This is the beginning of the rubber meeting the road. If we are to be Jesus' pupils or followers (which is what "disciple" means), then we must receive his Words and teachings into our hearts/spirits. Only then can we do the last thing, which is to do what he says. Remember, Jesus says, "If you love me, you will obey my commands" (John 14:15). The receiving part is extremely important, for we can spend many years admiring some of Jesus' "harder" teachings, yet never truly intend to do them. Or, we can explain away those teachings of Jesus which will require we change our life and behavior. Either way, we are not receiving his Words. Once we are willing to receive them, then it is only a matter of time until our feet and mouth follow through with the DO part.
This concept of Read - Understand - Receive - Do is supported by Jesus' teachings both explicitly and implicitly. Now why don't you find it while you read his Words? His Words are found in the first four books of the New Testament, otherwise known as the gospels, or those which contain the good news. We all need some good news, don't we? And what a glorious reward IF we will receive the good news!
The bad news is if we don't read-understand-receive-do Jesus' Words, then he says, "He who does not love Me does not keep My words". Here is where many stumble. They insist they love Jesus, but not only make no serious effort to "keep" his words, but don't even read them, seek to understand them, nor receive them let alone DO them. For so many in christianity, they will hear these horrible words of Justice directed at them, "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'" (Matthew 7:23) And they will say to the Father, 'Oh, but my pastor said...' and 'Oh, but Paul taught...'; and the Father will reply, "But my Son plainly told you he was the one Good Shepherd...why didn't you listen to him?"
If we read-understand-receive-do Jesus' Words with the right motivation, then he promises this: "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you." (John 15:3) To be "clean" means to be accepted by Jesus' Father. And that means Life eternal! But we must Read-Understand-Receive-Do "the word" which he speaks to us.
Oh thank you Father for preserving your Son's Words in the gospels! Oh praise you Lord for your loving kindness and your heart-felt compassion! May we avail ourselves of this glorious salvation, and not play the fool by playing the religion game thinking that we will successfully substitute the shallow counterfeit for the genuine.
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