Why Not Walk On Water
Let’s begin this final chapter by looking at a conversation that took place between Jesus and Peter. Jesus and Peter had many conversations but none like this one. This one was special. This was the first recorded dialogue Jesus had with Peter since Peter denied Him. Jesus, now clothed in His heavenly body, turned His attention to Peter and asked, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?” With his denial still fresh in his mind, Peter answered, “Yes, Lord; Thou knowest that I love thee.” Jesus replied, “Feed my lambs.” Again, Jesus asked, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?” and once again Peter replied, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.” Jesus responded, “Feed my sheep.” When Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him for the third time, Peter was grieved because He asked him this question three times and he said to the Lord, ‘Thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.” To this Jesus once again replied by asking Peter to feed His sheep (John 21:15-17). Immediately after this, Jesus informed Peter that in his old age he would be required by others to go where he didn’t want to go, indicating by what death he should glorify God. After this, we see Jesus speaking the same two words to Peter that He first spoke to him, “Follow me.” Jesus speaks these same two words to all who have the spiritual ears to hear them.
Remember that Peter, like each of us, had denied the Lord. Sitting outside the house of Ciaphas, he denied Jesus three times. It had been early that same evening when Peter had heard Jesus say that all of his disciples would be offended because of Him. Peter was quick to counter this by replying, "though all men should be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended" (Matthew 26:33). Later, we find Peter sleeping on duty when his Lord is facing his most critical trial. Many of us, like Peter, have fallen asleep on duty failing to protect our Lord from those who seek to destroy Him and His work. Though Jesus had taught Peter to turn the other cheek, Peter abandoned all he had learned to lash out, and strike with a sword, one of those who come to arrest Jesus. In one night Peter had gone from arguing that he might be the greatest in God’s kingdom to vowing he would never deny Jesus though his very life be threatened (Matthew 26:35). Peter then falls asleep on duty, cuts off the ear of one of the high priest servants (John 18:26), and three times denies Christ outside of the very place when Christ is being held on trial.
It seems as though Peter’s commitment to Christ began to hemorrhage and bleed out in one night. Many of us experience the same downhill slide. We attend a service of revival meetings, get all pumped up like some large balloon and slowly loose the air of conviction we received at the meeting. We’ve never moved from being hearers of the word to doers. Hearers of the word are like spectators at a sporting event. They get all excited during the event and some of that excitement may even spill over into the next few days, but eventually it passes.
Being a disciple is very different; it’s like being the athlete. As an athlete, you're training or competing constantly and your spirit is continually being renewed with the expectation of victory and the reward it brings, though it brings aches and pains as well. Many today shy away from the degree of dedication required to be an athlete or disciple for fear of the investment needed, the sacrifice required and the suffering endured. Some are afraid to become a disciple for fear they may catch the spiritual leprosy associated with the radicals.
Getting back to Peter, remember Jesus said, “Do you love me?” and then said, “feed my lambs and sheep.” Who are His sheep? Who are His lambs? We know that lambs are young sheep, therefore, if we can determine who the sheep are we should have no trouble understanding what Jesus means. The sheep, according to the scripture, are believers; disciples that know the voice of their master and shepherd, Jesus Christ.
26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: (KJV)
Jesus has linked two elements together here. He has equated the feeding of His sheep (believers) with loving Him. Notice that this compares very favorably with His discourse in Matthew the twenty fifth chapter, verses thirty one through forty six; “In as much as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40). Who are His brethren? He answers clearly those that do the will of His Father (Matthew 12:50). So, then, if we truly love Him we must feed His flock. We must feed them, attending to their needs in the flesh and we must satisfy their spiritual hunger as well. We should understand that the latter has eternal implications while the former has only temporal.
Jesus used three metaphors to portray the people of this earth. He refers to those who are His, as sheep. Sheep are interesting animals. They’ll lie quietly for hours then one of them will raise their head, sound an alarm, and begin to run and hop right into the barbed wire fence that contains them. Sheep require a lot more care and maintenance than cattle and they become easily attached to their shepherd and fearful of all others. It is easy to see why Jesus picked this metaphor for Christians.
Jesus also spoke of goats in Matthew, twenty-five: Many of the same characteristics found in sheep are evident in goats also. This may explain why they get along so well. Goats, however, have a strong propensity to butt, an annoying trait for any who work among them. Goats feed on things that sheep wouldn’t dream of. They’re not nearly as discriminating when it comes to food physical or spiritual. Goats are a metaphor for those self-centered, bible-toting, hypocrites who need nothing more because they have it all. The truth is there and they’re perfectly capable of feeding themselves without help from anyone. They’re easy to recognize because they, like all goats, like to butt. When you’re trying to feed them sound doctrine they’re going but, but, but, but what about this and what about that, etc.
Finally, we come to those individuals who prey upon the sheep, the wolves. Wolves and sheep look nothing alike and so many sheep graze peacefully, unaware that spiritual wolves first disguise themselves as sheep so they can walk unnoticed among the sheep, taking them by deception and killing them with lies, rituals, false doctrine, legalistic practices and the traditions of men. Wolves, being more aggressive in nature, find sheep willing to let them lead while the sheep blindly follow. They dominate, isolate and then ravage the flock and by the time the sheep become aware of their true identity it’s too late; all that’s left is those wounded, lost and dead. Wolves are those with smooth tongues, those who come dressed in the trappings of religious leadership, those who come as prophets or teachers prepared to deceive any and all who are foolish enough to allow them to.
46 Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts;
47 Which devour widows' houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation. (KJV)
15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. (KJV)
Capitalizing on this truth, many leaders today frighten their sheep into remaining within their grasp. They warn them about the dangers outside so as to keep them under their control. This way, they can isolate them, cut them off from any association with other flocks or other shepherds. This is also a tactic of the work for those in Christ have nothing to fear if they’re anchored solidly in Christ and His word. This is why it’s so important to feed His sheep. What should we feed them that will protect them from the wolves that seek to destroy them? We must make them strong in character, strong in integrity and strong in the word. We must feed them sound doctrine to equip their mind and teach them, through discipleship, how to model it by living what they’ve learned. This truth will set them free; free to follow the Chief Shepherd; free to hear and recognize His voice in any flock and free to follow Him anywhere He leads. If we’re properly fed and equipped we can enter any flock, hear any teacher and know by God’s spirit and by His word if the flock is of sheep or goats and if its leaders are shepherd or wolves. Those unequipped with sound doctrine need to be nurtured within the church body until they’re reached spiritual maturity. The teachers within a true church body must dedicate themselves to equipping the saints with the sound doctrine truth. Only when they've properly prepared with the truth are they truly set free. How would the gospel of forgiveness and reconciliation ever have reached our ears if those men of God that first heard it never moved beyond their own assembly? God seeks those who both know and live the truth to send into His harvest. First, we must know, then we must grow and finally, we must go. Our mission in Christ is to teach others to teach others.
2 Timothy 2:2
2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. (KJV)
God’s will is for His kingdom to be expanded and how shall it be expanded without teachers? How shall teachers make a difference if they never reach those who need to be taught? God wants all who call upon the name of Jesus to grow up to maturity so they can nurture others to do the same. Many of God’s children are afraid to step out for God. Many fear running ahead of His will and so never move. How angry do you think God will be if in trying with all your heart to serve Him, you make a wrong move? Many shrink back, so afraid of making the wrong move, that they make no move at all. Better to die actively seeking to accomplish His will than die waiting to discover what it is. If you’re not equipped with the truth then seek it. If you have the truth, then live it.If you live the truth, then share it. Get off the bench and get in the game!
The most formidable instruments of deterrence used against those who desire to forsake all and follow Christ are those who are closest to them; usually members of their own biological or spiritual family.
36 And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. (KJV)
God’s call is heard within. Your own body is God’s temple and His spirit dwells in you. His voice will be heard first from within though often it may be confirmed from without. That still, small voice will speak to you, just as it did to Samuel and Elijah.
1 Kings 19:12
12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. (KJV)
When God calls He will first speak to you before confirming it through anyone; He will not call you through others. When He called Moses, He spoke to Moses and when He called Paul, He spoke directly to Paul. This is His plan; this is consistent with His blueprint for His kingdom and your life.
God never intended that we should remain good little sheep but that we should become good little shepherds. To do this, brethren, we must shake off all earthly influences and grow up. Turn now to the fourteenth chapter of Matthew, beginning in the twenty-second verse and reading through verse thirty-three.
22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.
23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.
33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God. (KJV)
Let’s take a close look at what happened in this text. Peter saw Jesus coming toward the boat, walking on water. He was fascinated, captivated, entranced, how could anybody walk on water? He was convinced that if the Lord allowed and bid him, too, he also could walk on water. He first had to make sure that it was the will of Christ; the will of God. Now notice, that Peter had first to ask then he and he alone had to take that faith testing first step. Do you suppose he had sufficient faith or did God prove He was Peter’s father also by increasing his faith; taking him by his spiritual hand, so to speak, and helping him take that first step.
Peter’s confidence grew as he drew closer to the Lord. Peter’s eyes were fixed on Jesus. As long as Peter’s eyes remained on Jesus, he walked in the power and authority of Christ and he didn’t sink, but when he became concerned with the circumstances around him, the tempest of wind and waves, he began to sink. Notice that even when his faith was weakening, the Lord rewarded him for his effort and would not let him drown.
There’s a lesson to be learned here, brethren. As long as you keep your life focused on Christ He will not let you sink. If you make a mistake but your heart is bent on serving the Lord and you continue moving in His direction, He will not let you go. It would take a special person, a peculiar person, a dedicated person to step from the boat to the water knowing it meant defying all the laws of nature but Peter proved himself to be a radical, a peculiar person, a true disciple.
Peter had the guts, the spirit of adventure, and the fortitude to take the risk. He didn’t need three days to think it over, he didn’t need to study the principles of buoyancy or physics to make up his mind. All he had to know was that Christ said, “Come”. Peter got out of the boat, out of the security of that vessel into the winds, into the waves, into the tempest of the storm.
Others stayed behind in fear. Peter certainly wasn’t the greatest thinker among them. If he had been he probably would have reasoned that walking on water is impossible unless you know where those stones were hidden just beneath the surface. Yes, Peter was no brain surgeon or racket scientist; he was just simple enough to follow Jesus. Jesus didn’t walk over to the boat, put his arm around Peter’s waist and lift him into the water while holding him. No, He stood off a ways with arms out-stretched as a father does when his child is just learning to walk. Then Jesus, like a father, said, “Come,” and Peter, like an anxious child, simply did what Jesus asked. The rest of the disciples cowering with fear thought Jesus was a ghost, and were afraid to get out of the boat, to leave the safety of this man-made craft, to walk on a Jesus-made sea. Only Peter had the courage and faith to move toward Jesus and share this incredible, supernatural experience with Him. Do you think when Peter returned to the boat, he thought, “That was a silly thing to do. I don’t know why I did that, boy, I’m lucky to be alive. I’ll never do that again?” No, Peter didn’t think like that. Even though he began to sink, even though he felt his life was threatened he wasn’t the least bit sorry for the experience. He most likely told all of his companions and all of his relatives about the experience he alone shared with Jesus when together they stood and walked on water. What an incredible tale, what a phenomenal adventure and Peter became richer for it. Peter had grown to love Jesus and as we have said before, perfect love casts out all fear. Peter may have had his problems at the end. He is so like many of us; so inconsistent, so awkward in his daily walk but he always had a willing heart. Let’s keep in mind that when Peter crawled over the side of that boat, he did it without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Peter and the rest of the disciples didn’t come into that experience until John, chapter twenty and verse twenty-two.
22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: (KJV)
Christ was with Peter, as was His Spirit, but it was not yet in him or any of the other disciples.
17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. (KJV)
Can there be any doubt that Peter truly loved and trusted Christ? Who else was eager to try their hand at water walking? Some of us have heard of fire-walkers but how many water walkers have you seen or heard of?
5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (KJV)
These two verses are among the most quoted in scripture; the most quoted but also the most ignored. Peter trusted in the Lord with all his heart, he didn’t stop to lean on his understanding, he merely acknowledged Christ and the path that led to Him. Somehow, Peter knew that his foot would come to rest upon the waves and they would bear his weight. He know that what was impossible with men was possible with God. He knew that he could do all things through Christ who would strengthen him (Matthew 19:26) (Philemon 4:13).
If we ask for bread will God give us a stone (Matthew 7:9)? We know He won’t. If we are truly seeking the will of God with no ulterior motive, we need not worry about falling for God will have His way with us; God’s hand will be in all we do. Why? Because He says so (Proverbs 3:5-6). God will not let you sink but you must get out of the boat! You must walk on the water, living water (John 7:38-39). What if I sink? What if I make a fool of myself? What if I make a mistake? So What! It’s not important. The important thing is building your faith by trusting the Lord. Stop worrying, it’s God’s responsibility to take care of you, but it’s your responsibility to serve Him; keep your eyes on Jesus. Do you believe Romans 8:28?
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (KJV)
If you believe this, then it’s time to get out of the boat; your boat, whatever and wherever it may be. Discover for yourself that you can walk on water; living water; the Holy Spirit.
When Jesus approached that boat, Peter saw an opportunity, the others saw a ghost. When Peter saw Jesus on the water, he was filled with wonder and the spirit of adventure filled him. The others were filled with the spirit of fear. While the others shook with fear, Peter shook with excitement and expectation. The others could have, they should have, but Peter did. When it was over, all the others could do was admit to everyone they didn’t have the faith to try but Peter had the testimony of accomplishment. Peter had proved that Christ alone was sufficient to sustain him.
Peter’s love for Christ had conquered his fear of death; his love was greater than his fear and the testimony of his faith and love remain forever recorded in the word of God. Many of us cling tightly to our little mad-made boats of home, job, denomination, culture or tradition. We huddle in some sinking corner of our boat afraid to take that first step; afraid to test our faith and God’s word. We haven’t been called of God to represent Him in fear but in boldness. Only a special class of people could meet such a challenge and that is exactly what God has called us to be.
2 For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth. (KJV)
Perhaps you think this text is meant only for those in the Old Testament or only for Jews, if so, then read first Peter, chapter two and verse nine of the New Testament.
1 Peter 2:9
9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: (KJV)
How can we be a peculiar person, a person sanctified, filled with the Holy spirit, a person living in righteous obedience before God if you never leave the artificial safety and comfort of the boat? How can we ever hope to walk in heavenly places if we never leave the fearful confines of this world?
Brethren, each of us must face our own test. For one young pastor it was leaving behind a church that had grown from a bible study he had taught in upstate New York to go two and a half thousand miles away to a mission field in Mexico. This meant leaving friends and loved ones behind. First, he had to be prepared to go. For him, this meant visiting the area in which he would serve, determining what needs beside the gospel that he might be able to fill then making the arrangements to prepare himself to meet those needs.
He learned that the greatest need in the area to which God had called him was child delivery. He promptly returned home to seek out a doctor or nurse practitioner who would be willing to return with him. Though he looked for months he found no one. Frustrated, but still convinced God had called him, he visited a local hospital and spoke with the chief obstetrician, the head of the obstetrics department. He felt ridiculous asking, but he summoned up the courage to ask the doctor if he would train him to deliver babies in the mission field. To his amazement, the doctor replied with a reluctant yes. Later, our missionary learned the doctor was convinced he would abandon this notion in a few days when he saw the incredible amount of study and stress required to accomplish this task. He didn’t know that God had another plan in mind.
The resident physicians with whom the missionary would be training had just enough college boy in them to find the prospect of training an “off the street” pastor to be amusing. These residents were required to spend twenty-four hours a day at the hospital. They found by teaching another what they had just learned and converting it into simple layman language was good practice and fortified their own understanding. The pastor spent sixteen hours a day, six days a week, at the hospital preparing for the mission field. Only on Sunday did he allow himself the opportunity to rest, though he continued to preach on Sundays as well. He continued this rigorous routine for almost one year. Not only did he learn to deliver babies but finished a rotation in the emergency room.
At last, the training was completed, the pastor had by this time delivered more than a few babies under the watchful eyes of graduate doctors and was, in their opinion, ready to go to Mexico. Only two questions remained. First, he had not practiced as a minister in a denominational setting, therefore, he had no financial backing from a mission board. He had made up his mind that if his call was truly from God, then God would provide. His second problem seemed to be even greater. He had no formal credentials with which to impress the Mexican government to allow him to practice his newly learned skills.
He arrived in Texas with a few others who accompanied him, some of which he had convinced the hospital to train with him. Together they found employment in Texas just across the border from their chosen mission field. At first, they worked on one side of the border to earn their daily bread and buy the medical supplies needed on the other side in Mexico. The pastor then visited the administrative head of the local Mexican Health Department with whom he had secured an appointment. He prayed repeatedly for God’s intervention and help, realizing that all his training and preparation would be for nothing if he failed to get permission from this agency to practice. The pastor spoke no Spanish, creating one more obstacle to be overcome.
Many of the brethren he had left behind in New York scoffed at him and predicted failure. They commented he was crazy to believe that Mexico was going to allow him to practice obstetrics on their citizens but undaunted by this criticism, he steadfastly forged ahead. Now, he sat outside the office of the one man who could approve or destroy all his hopes. When he was at last shown into the administrator’s office he was relieved to find that he spoke English fairly well, but this in no way assured him success. After a lengthy interview in which the pastor had opportunity to present his plan to work among the poor in the poorest colonies delivering babies, etc, the administrator listened patiently, but gave no indication of support or resistance, in fact, he remained virtuously emotionless. The meeting ended when the administrator promised to send two doctors to the pastor’s residence to verbally test his knowledge and understanding of labor, delivery and medicine in general.
Several days later, as agreed, the pastor was visited by two promised physicians who spent the greater part of two days asking question after question but giving no indication as to whether or not they approved. A few days after the verbal examination, he was summoned to the administration office for the answer he had so long waited for. After waiting for what seemed forever, he was at last shown into the administrator’s office. The two men exchanged handshakes and the administrator began to relate how impressed his doctors were with the pastor’s knowledge. The pastor thought that the administrator was just letting him down easy. Finally, with all the small talk out of the way, the administrator looked directly into the pastor’s eyes with a serious look which matched the serious tone of his voice and said, “You won’t be able to charge any fees for your services and you won’t be allowed to practice near the office of any Mexican doctor, do you understand?”
The pastor replied anxiously, “Yes Sir, I understand.” He continued, ‘Very well. I’m issuing you this document giving you permission to practice general medicine in this corner of Mexico.” Overwhelmed, the pastor replied, “Sir, I just want to deliver babies among the poor. I never asked to practice medicine.” Once more the administrator responded, “My doctors assured me that you know how to use antibiotics and many of our people suffer from infections in these areas. I think we can trust you to do what you can to help.”
“When can I start?”
“As soon as you like.”
“Can I start today?”
“By all means,” replied the administrator and the pastor’s heart began pounding with excitement as he turned and left.
The pastor practiced for about seven and a half years, sharing the gospel, healing the sick and delivering well over one thousand babies. He delivered them on both sides of the border legally. On the American side, he practiced as a midwife for a small fee which he used to support himself and buy the supplies which he used on the Mexican side to deliver babies and attend to the sick for free. He never did get use to the term midwife, but he learned to live with it.
He would have continued his ministry there, but long hours of service took their toll on his health as well as the strain of ministry and he had to return home to rest upon learning he had a potentially fatal heart problem. Today, he counts it all joy and regards those seven and one half years as some of the most fruitful in his life. This experience had revealed to him what it means to walk on water; to leave the boat and follow Jesus. He had delivered babies before but that was in the safe environment of an American hospital with loads of emergency equipment and skilled doctors to assist should any problems arise. It was only a short time later when the pastor found himself delivering the second child of a twenty-eight year old Mexican woman who had no husband and no money. He was scared and exited at the same time. Trying to act calm and confident in front of the patient but praying like crazy within, he delivered a healthy six and a half pounder and well over a thousand more. He had seen only one baby that died during pregnancy, but God graciously allowed him 100% survival of both mothers and babies of all he delivered. Birth is truly a miracle of God as is learning to walk on water.
Brethren, please understand that sitting on a church bench all the way to hell is not what God wants for us. Doing today the same thing we did yesterday and the day before is not what Jesus has in mind. We must leave our comfort zone, reach for the mark of the prize, dare to walk on water.
Let’s go back to the beginning; back where true discipleship began; back to the shores of Galilee, back to where men were going about their day by day routines, back to that first day when, for the first time, they heard the call of Jesus.
18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.
21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.
22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.
23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. (KJV)
Can you get your mind around what you just read? Peter and Andrew, his brother, dropped their nets, left their family business and their father, got out of the boat and followed Jesus (Matthew 4:18-20). When Jesus called they didn’t say let me discuss this with Dad. They didn’t say let us talk about it and we’ll let you know or can you wait until we’re finished what we’re doing. No, they went as the scriptures say, straightway, or in today’s language, immediately. Likewise, when He called James and John, they were in a boat with Zebedee, their father, mending nets and they left nets and father to follow Him and never hesitated, but left immediately (Matthew 4:21-22).
If they hadn’t left when Jesus called, they would have missed His teachings in the synagogues of Galilee. They would have missed His preaching on the kingdom, His healing of the sick and His curing of disease among their people (Matthew 4:23). They were learning a new discipline, they were studying under a new master, serving a new king in a new kingdom. Had they remained in their comfortable little boat, they would have missed it all.
Many today have no idea what they’re missing because they’re too afraid to move, too frightened to step out in faith and walk on the living water of the Spirit. Jesus calls “follow me” but one by one, we begin to make excuses. If our faith was real, our relationship in Christ based on love rather than a wish, we would respond with action.
Can we be doing anything more important? Can we be involved with anything or anybody that would be more critical than following Him? We wonder why our spiritual lives are drying up; why they lack meaning. Without following Christ, our lives have no purpose. What does it profit, my brethren, though a man say he has faith and has not works? Can faith save him (Js 2:14)? Can we be hearers of the word without being doers? Are we deceiving ourselves? Is it possible that we will be among those who, when they reach the judgment seat of Christ, will hear Him say, “Depart from me. I never know you” (Matthew 7:22-23)? Many seem so sure of themselves, so confident. If you’re one of these, then perhaps you can answer why His word refers to our salvation as the blessed hope?
13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; (KJV)
Do you suppose that these fishermen never attended a synagogue, never visited the temple? Unthinkable! They were, most probably, as committed to their religious lifestyle as we are to ours but they put it down and walked away. They left the old wine with its old wine skin behind because they had, like the wedding guests at the feast of Cana, discovered the deep, rich, compelling flavor of the new wine and knew it would take a new wine skin, a new stronger, peculiar container, to hold it and they were volunteering for the position (Matthew 9:17). Do you think their priests, the Pharisees, were content to see them leave? More likely, their priests, parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends and neighbors all asked them if they had lost their mind. “How can you leave your home, family and business behind?” “How can you just leave your boats to rot, drop your nets and just walk off to follow a man of no reputation?” But they did. They left their nets behind, the things which had caught them; the safety of home and family of income and religious custom, the comfort of the familiar, things that had sustained them all their lives and simply walked away.
So many of us, like the fishermen, are out there, in the world, trying to catch a living, a home, a comfortable and secure life, but it’s we that are instead caught by it. It’s we who are trapped, caught in the snare of getting. How do we ever hope to walk by faith if we never leave the boat, if we never learn to walk on water? How do we hope to understand God’s eternal, spiritual plan, His blueprint, if we don’t have the faith to see it, understand and follow it? The disciples left their boats and nets behind, will you? Disciples of God have love one for another (John 13:35), they bear much fruit (John 15:8), they forsake all that they have (Luke 14:33). If we can’t stand the heat maybe its time we got out of the kitchen. Perhaps now we can understand why the gate is straight, the way narrow and few find it (Matthew 7:14). The population of God’s kingdom will be a lot smaller than that dumped into the lake of fire; a lot smaller than most of us realize or care to think about and the requirements for citizenship are a lot narrower than most of us want to believe. Will we leave the boat or will we shiver in a corner of it? When Jesus bids us to walk on the water, will we hold back, allowing our fears to control our faith?
Brethren, don’t hold back when you hear Him call; He may not call again. Don’t worry about failing in your attempt, worry instead about failing to make an attempt. God will sustain you. Yes, you will slip, but the Lord’s hand will uphold you when you stumble.
23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.
24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand. (KJV)
Are you ready now to return to the church that Jesus built, the early church, the church of Acts, the only model Jesus left us that meets His blueprint? You may be thinking, “I can’t live so complete a commitment, I want to, but I’m not ready.” If your present church hasn’t prepared you after all this time then you should realize now that it hasn’t done its job. If you ever hope to reach the mark of the prize, God’s highest calling for your life, then your only hope is reconstruction according to His blueprint. Take your inadequate, insecure self to a body of Christians who live in Christ and can prepare you to reach the goals of true discipleship. You don’t have to be a finished product to get out of the boat, you need only the courage it takes to take the first step. Peter wasn’t a finished product, he was just a willing one.
What is an early church? How do I find one? Where do I look? Fist, look to Christ, then listen to your heart, then seek what you’re looking for with all your heart, praying each day for God’s guidance. Check the internet for the early church web sites that have information. Share this book with others and if they hear God through it begin to meet together with them. Remember, where two or more are gathered together in His name, He will be among you.
20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (KJV)
Put aside all denominational doctrine and begin together to search the scriptures with an eye to locating and destroying false hand-me-down doctrine within yourself. Take the plank out of your own eyes before trying to remove it from your brother’s. Buy nothing with your offerings except perhaps a communion set and let your resources be used to care for one another within the assembly. Let any excess be used to advance God’s kingdom through the distribution of biblical materials and charity, giving to those in need in the name of Christ. Write songs and poems, give teachings that reflect sound doctrine and tolerate nothing that is staged, phony, hollow or designed to entertain. Don’t be afraid to have fun for there is nothing wrong with feeling a spirit of joy when worshipping. Do everything according to God’s word. Judge everything according to God’s word and do not use it for personal gain. Let your leaders be recognized by the assembly as those who must meet God’s standard for leadership as established in His word. Let your goals be to raise everyone to leadership level so that there be only leaders and leaders in training among you. Come into complete agreement with each other on all spiritual and doctrinal things, for unity will be the key to God’s power among you. Do not regard this as an impossibility but as a goal. The miraculous appearance of total doctrinal unity among you will be a sign to you of His approval.
Search the blueprint and build exactly as it requires. Do not build any portion of it off the foundation specified. Do not add or take away anything from it. Do not try to combine the wine of the Old Testament with the wine of the New, but instead follow the New Testament completely with a willing a joyful heart. All of it was given by the Holy Spirit through the apostles, prophets and teachers to us and it all bears His seal.
Do not become an island to yourself. Home churches are usually small and need the strength that comes with fellowshipping with other home churches. Don’t let your focus be fixed within by getting into self analysis but instead look out over the fields the Lord has left us to harvest. Do not place an intellectual bookend on your learning for God is constantly revealing truth to all who remain open and yielded. Learn from each other. Seek to challenge and correct your doctrines always and be grateful to those who help. Examine any who come to you claiming to have special knowledge from God but listen carefully, they may have something you need. Do not allow yourselves to be included in any scheme that combines two or more churches together under a common earthly leadership and do not invest the Lord’s money in anything that will not stand the test of fire.
Do not become impressed with titles, educational credentials, materials or political power. God doesn’t look on the outward but on the heart. If possible, live in close proximity so you can be a daily testimony to each other. Use your homes and tables to accommodate the brethren or those who would like to be. Serve one another always, let forgiveness be a sign of your love toward each other. Pray, for the days grow short and the time of His appearing grows near and the day will come when we will no longer walk on the tempestuous waters of this life but instead will rise to meet Jesus in the air. Until then, let’s keep on keeping on. Amen.