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A New Testament Disciple (Julius Hovan)


Julius Hovan

(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

     Welcome to this broadcast of Words of Life.  We are so glad you have tuned in today. We hope that you will stay tuned and receive the blessing that God has in store for all who come to know and love him.

The most common word used in the gospels and in the book of Acts to describe believers in Christ is the word disciple. Now there are some 272 times this word is used to refer to those who are followers of Jesus.  A disciple is easy to define. They are simply a pupil, a learner, someone who is a learner, a pupil, a follower of Jesus.  Now the difference between disciple and apostle, the apostle is one who has been a learner, been a disciple, but then he is sent forth with the message.

If you are familiar with the Word of God, you are familiar with the experience of Saul and his conversion on the road to Damascus. This one who had persecuted Christians, who did not believe in Jesus, is on his way to capture Christians and to persecute them for their faith in Jesus. On his way to Damascus to do that very thing he is struck down by a great light. He is blinded and he says, “Lord, what would you have me to do?” in Acts chapter nine and verse six.  And I suggest to you that the first and last words of that question are inseparable: Lord and do. Jesus, you will remember, said in Luke 6:46, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord and not do the things that I tell you?”

Our acceptance of Jesus for salvation is directly related to our acceptance of him as Lord. Paul in Romans 10 verses eight, nine and 10 makes this very clear.  We often times want to eliminate the need for such things as confession and repentance and we like to have and accept from the Word of God those things that suit our thinking and we don’t want to get too serious about some of the serious matters in the Word of God, the demands that are given. He is the Lord and he makes demands of us.

Now this passage in Acts that we read, “Lord, what will you have me to do?” was prior to the conversion of the man we know today as Paul. His name then was Saul. And this should be the normal response of every heart that desires a position in the kingdom of God. If you want the blessings of God, if you want eternity with God, if you want his peace and joy and provision in this life, then it means that you will, as did Saul, you will turn and your question will be, “Lord, what will you have me to do?”

We speak about conversion and consecration. One at one time somebody says and the other later on. I believe the New Testament conversion and the New Testament implies and teaches us that New Testament consecration involves the fact that we have been converted. The two go together. If I come to Christ, I give my life to him.  Paul in Romans 12, “Present your bodies a living sacrifice.”

We don’t need a gap between conversion and consecration. I am afraid many might fall into that gap.  Let us look forward to these things that we are looking at here this morning as we think of what a New Testament disciple is.  If you want to be a New Testament disciple, what is involved? What is essential?  What is necessary?  I believe there are at least six. We will see these in this conversion of Saul.  As Saul journeyed to Damascus he was spiritually blind to the reality of the claims of Jesus.  His goal was to stamp out any memory of Jesus, to get rid of this thing called the way, which is what the Christian belief was called in that day. He saw Jesus as an imposter and he disagreed with all his claims.  And so it was no surprise that when he was struck blind he asked the question: Who are you? And what an answer came from Jesus when he said, “I am Jesus whom you persecute.”

Paul’s question is a key.  Paul was blind. What did Paul need? He needed enlightenment. He needed to have the light turned on to let him realize, Paul, you are wrong. You are in error.  And we must give you the light of the truth of the gospel.  Those who found no beauty in Jesus, those like that today, must have their eyes opened.  Investigate about Jesus.  Oh, many people have done that, writers like Mr. C. S. Lewis who was an Agnostic for most of his life, who finally came and said, “I am going to investigate about Jesus and who he claims to be and what he was.” And upon his investigation he became a Christian and a follower of Jesus and a great servant of his and his writings to follow. He had his eyes open.

Maybe you are listening today and you believe in some other God, or whatever it might be. You don’t believe in Jesus. You need, as did Saul, enlightenment and you can find that in the Word of God. Before one can receive Christ, they must see who he is.
Secondly, a disciple needs emancipation along with that enlightenment. In Saul’s case and in ours, we are not only blind needing sight, but we are bound in sin needing deliverance. And this power of God brings with it sight and the freedom to be what God wants us to be.  This emancipation delivers us from the guilt of sin.

We cannot appropriate the riches of Christ till we receive and confess our own bankruptcy. I do not have one thing that I can contribute to be a payment for my salvation.  I am guilty with no reservations. Ah, then the real meaning of the substitution that Jesus gave at Calvary, his sacrifice in my place. And Saul, in spite of all of his religion and his blameless law keeping saw his guilt.  He realized that all of his religion and all of his knowledge and all of his position and he came to the point, he says in the book of Philippians, I counted all of that as dung and one translator says like a bone cast to the dogs, in order to receive Jesus.  He saw his guilt and was then able to be emancipated and set free, enlightenment to his mind and emancipation from his sins.   He was delivered from the guilt of sin and from the grip of sin as well. He had not only broken God’s law, as we all have done, but we become captive of our habits.

What are your habits?  Some of them are good. Some of them are bad. If you are a typical person like me you have had some habits that were displeasing to God.  We need to be delivered from that grip of those habits, those things that we just do out of our natural selves that are in opposition to the will of God.

The children of Israel were delivered in that great land of Egypt, delivered from the sentence of death, but then they were brought out of Egypt and the bondage that they underwent there.   Charles Wesley wrote these words, “He,” that is Jesus, “He breaks the power of cancelled sin. He sets the prisoner free. His blood can make the foulest clean. His blood availed for me.”  You cannot be a disciple of Christ until you have received his deliverance, enlightenment to your spiritual eyes, and emancipation from your sin, from its guilt and from its grip.

But then notice what Paul calls him. He is Lord Jesus.  If I am enlightened and emancipated, then there is an enthronement of Jesus as Lord.  I have received him as Savior, Redeemer, as sovereign and ruler. And to be in a kingdom means we need to be under a king.  And to be under a king necessitates obedience. He delivered us out of the power of darkness and translated us into he kingdom of the Son of his love, Colossians chapter one and verse 13.

We are in that kingdom today called the Church.  In verse 18 we read, and he is the head of the body, the Church, the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he might have the preeminence. Jesus is the one whom we are to enthrone in our lives. He is to be sovereign and ruler. To be in a kingdom means we are under the authority of a king. The world cries, “We will not have this man to rule over us.” Those of that day that said crucify him, said, in reality, we do not want him as our Lord. And so the Christian disciple must just as forcefully acknowledge Jesus as the one that is reigning in his heart. The sign that comes at our scriptural Christian baptism is a sign of our death. We bury those who have died. And so I am buried in the watery grave of baptism. I am dead to self and I am enthroning Jesus in my heart, my mind and my life.

But now an interesting thing happens. Yes, I have been emancipated from this thing called sin, but as a disciple of the Lord Jesus, one who enthrones him, I go from one enslavement to another and so enlightenment comes. I am emancipated. I put Jesus as Lord and what happens? I am enslaved again.  The New Testament Scripture makes it even stronger than just a kingdom relationship. Saul recognized this from henceforth; from the time of his obedience he saw the necessity of Jesus being the Lord in his life. He says this in 2 Corinthians chapter five and verse 15.  And he died for all that they that live should no longer live unto themselves, but unto him who for  their sakes died and rose again.

To be in enslavement to God and the Lord Jesus is a tremendous experience. I am a servant of his. I am a slave.  Paul said he was a bond slave. That is the lowest slave in the order of slavery. And all my powers I want to put under his dominion.  All of my possessions I want to have at his disposal. All of my plans at his direction.  Will you let God dominate your power and possess your possessions? And would you let your plans be directed by him?   I trust, indeed, that you will do that.

If we are then in enslavement to Jesus, the next thing that follows for a Christian disciple is, logically, employment. All of the foregoing that we have talked about, and the word, do give us the inescapable situation of employment in the service of God. And Paul, the writer in the book of Acts chapter nine and verse 15 tells us this,   But the Lord said unto him, ‘Go your way. He is a chosen vessel to me to bear my name before the Gentiles and before kings and before the children of Israel’.  He is chosen. He is saved to serve.  I am afraid too many 20th century disciples are standing idle in the marketplace. I am afraid too many are not following the will of God. I am afraid too many are not doing God’s will as he would have it to be done.

1 Timothy chapter one and verse 12 the writer gives us these words.   I thank him that enabled me, even Christ Jesus our Lord. He counted me faithful, appointing me to his service. Paul understood that to be a disciple involved employment, business for God.

Now there is a great conclusion to all of this. When I am enlightened, when I am emancipated, when I have enthroned Jesus as Lord in my life, when I recognize I am enslaved to his kingdom and to his service, I am employed as a servant of his, the last thing that happens is this thing we call enjoyment.

Do you have a job where you go in and you punch the clock and you are unhappy all day long as you serve in that job? I have talked to many people that are in this situation. It is drudgery.  They want to come in every morning and punch that time clock in the face.  How terrible to do, to serve, to work, but not to enjoy it. And, you know, there are too many Christians that are that way. What a terrible way it is.

In the book of Exodus chapter 21 we read there in verses five and six these words. But if your servant shall say, I love my master, my wife and my children. I will not go out free. Then his master will bring him to God, bring him to the door, to the doorpost and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl and he shall serve him forever.  That was the custom in that day, that if you were a slave and you were going to be given your freedom, but you did not want to go free, you chose to continue serving that master, they would bring you and bore a hole in your ear and you would serve that master for the rest of your life, because you love that master. Should it not be that way with us?

2 Chronicles chapter nine and verse seven says, speaking of Solomon’s servant: Happy are your men and happy are these your servants that stand continually before you and hear your wisdom.  I say to you without fear of contradiction that if we will come into the presence of God, allow him to enlighten us, to give us the salvation that he offers so freely, to emancipate us from the guilt and grip of sin, and if we will make Jesus the Lord of our lives, become a servant of his, be involved in his service in some way, there is enjoyment beyond what we have ever experienced. The pierced ear was the symbol of a loving and dedicated heart and so it should be for us.  Paul’s conversion involved enlightenment with regards to who Jesus is. It involved emancipation through the power of the gospel message.  It involved the enthronement of the person of Jesus and enslavement to the will of Jesus, employment in the service of Jesus, and the enjoyment of the presence and power of the Lord Jesus.
You can answer the question as did Saul. What would you have me to do? You, as an individual Christian or as a group of Christians, can turn the world upside down. Are you a disciple?  Are you serving? Are you faithful or are you out of Christ? Are you like Saul? Are you ready to acknowledge Jesus as your Lord and Savior?

That is our desire for you in this Words of Life broadcast.


                                                                  Julius Hovan is minister of the Bohon Church of Christ, Kentucky.


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I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13