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Standing in a locked room looking at the risen Christ as He says, “Peace be with you,” because you are startled and frightened, thinking you have seen a ghost, is not exactly the same as seeing the risen Christ standing in front of you saying your name as you suddenly recognise who He is and you cry out, “Rabboni!” as your hands clasp Him so that after a while He has to say, “Do not hold on to Me, for I have not yet returned to the Father.  Go instead to My brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.’ “  Nor is it quite the same even after the women hurried from the tomb that Jesus suddenly meets with them and says, “Greetings,” and they clasp His feet to worship Him and hear Him tell them, “Do not be afraid.  Go and tell My brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see Me.”  Neither Mary nor the other women were so startled that they were frightened, but rather, Mary and the other women were joyful and worshipful… coming to hold onto Him.

There are many who, being ignorant of what is written, might well argue that Jesus always intended to visit them in the locked room first and then meet them later in Galilee so that what Matthew wrote in Matthew 28.16:  Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go, seemed to be their obedient response to the commands of John 20.17 and Matthew 28.10 when it was not.  For if it was the intention of Jesus to go first to Galilee alone and then return in the evening so that the eleven could go later, the command would have been different, even along these lines… “Go tell My brothers to wait for Me when I return from Galilee.  They will see Me, even tonight.”  Anyone then who is in the habit of not listening to Jesus, but to everyone else around them, even their own judgment and discernment and even based on what they believe, will be startled and frightened just like the eleven, even when Jesus appears to you to say, “Peace be with you.”  It is only those who have made it their practice to listen to Jesus who will clasp Him and worship Him, even when He appears suddenly.  If the eleven who had spent time with Him were startled and frightened when Jesus appeared suddenly, how much more will those who claim to be His disciples and believers be startled and frightened when He does appear to them as well? 

Now concerning believers and disciples, it is time to learn who are the true believers and who are the true disciples, not by men’s definitions or doctrines or those taken from men who have never meet Jesus, but taken from Jesus’ own words and from evidence of Jesus’ own work.

For those who come down from the Mount of Transfiguration, having spent 40 days and nights there in the presence of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, cannot have a mindset that is the same as the world’s.  The standards of the Kingdom of God are very different from the standards of the world; that is obvious even to the dullest.  As such, the standard, no, the definition of who constitutes a believer and who constitutes a disciple must also be different.

Concerning believers, Jesus said, And these signs will accompany those who believe…” meaning that there are certain evidences that point to those who are true believers:  “In My Name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

Accompanying signs are like placards that tell observers who they are.  As such, anyone who claims to be a believer, but yet has no signs accompanying him, should question himself as to whether he truly believes and who or what he believes.  If even those who call Him, “Lord, Lord…” and can drive out demons, do miracles and prophesy in His Name are rejectable, then what of those who believe and yet have no validatory signs accompanying them?  Are they believers still in the absence of validatory signs?  If you listen to the church, the answer is yes.  If you listen to Jesus, the answer is no.  However, will a person who believes and yet has no validatory signs to accompany his life be saved?  The answer is yes, for he who calls upon the Name of the Lord will be saved.  So what is the purpose of validatory signs?  Simple, exactly what they are – to validate that those who confess their belief have been confirmed by the Holy Spirit’s witness that they are what they confess with the signs accompanying them.

These five validatory signs must accompany every believer so that the Kingdom of God can recognise who are really believers and who are deceivers who come with titles of offices and deep learning of Scriptures and yet cannot do the simplest of tasks that Jesus did – drive out demons and heal the sick and the simplest of tasks that Jesus did not do, speak in tongues.

For the full verse of John 14.12 in all versions states:  “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in Me, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing.  He will do even greater things than these.”  As such, of the five validatory signs of a believer are two things that Jesus had been doing and one thing that Jesus was not recorded as having done, and therefore, can be called ‘a greater thing’.  For Jesus never spoke in such a way that Jews from different parts of the world could understand what was said in their own native language at the same time.  As such, in the Galilean congregation, a person is not a confirmed believer until he or she is confirmed by the Lord with the signs that He said accompanies them.  Some would argue that Jesus did not say these signs must accompany the believers for them to be believers.  That is true, but He did say, And these signs will accompany those who believe… so why not ensure that these signs do accompany you if you claim to be a believer?

Put another way, if you really belong to an organisation you would have no objection when you are asked to validate your membership by showing some ID, unless you do not really belong or you are wearing a false ID.  Any believer who knows that these signs are accompanying him will not hesitate to demonstrate these signs or trust in them to protect him.  And even if challenged by some skeptic that you should drink poison or pick up a rattlesnake to prove your status, you would realise the signs of driving out demons and speaking in tongues would allow you to say to those who challenge you, “It is written:  ‘Do not test the Lord your God.’ ”  For a fellow believer knows and understands that being able to drive out demons, heal the sick and speak in tongues will suffice and the other two signs are for unbelievers.

However, as you move around the congregations that hold onto the traditions of Jerusalem, especially James the Younger’s judgment, you will find that their believers have been taught not to speak in tongues, nor can they heal the sick or drive out demons, and by and large, they live in fear of dying.  If you live in fear of dying, you live in fear of being poisoned or being bitten by a serpent.  Need we say more?

As such, it is the work of the Galilean descendants to restore these signs to those who profess to be believers if they so desire, and leave those who have no desire to have these signs accompany their confession where they are, especially when they take offence and prefer to hold onto the doctrines passed to them by the Jerusalem traditionalists.  They have been blinded by their guides and they want to be left alone… as the Lord said, “Leave them…”  It is not our work to convince everyone, but rather, our work is to bear witness that every word of Jesus is the truth, including the signs He said will accompany those who believe.

However, those who can drive out demons, speak in new tongues, drink poison, pick up serpents and heal the sick are believers, but a believer is not necessarily a disciple.

The perspective from the top of the Mount of Transfiguration as to who are disciples must be taken from the Father’s perspective, for it was He who said to Peter, James and John, “Listen to Him,” because “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased…” 

As such, anyone who does not listen to Jesus does not constitute being a disciple in the first place.  However, there were many who listened to Jesus whenever He spoke who were not His disciples.  So then, listening to Jesus alone does not constitute valid discipleship in the Father’s eyes, for to the disciples the Father said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased…”

The Pharisees and the priests were certainly not listening to Jesus as if He was the beloved Son of God, but rather, they listened as if He was a blasphemer at worst or Someone they could use at best.  The attitude, the respect, the love, with which you listen to Jesus validates your discipleship in the Father’s eyes.

However, Jesus’ own disciples, as we have been shown, often did not listen to Him, yet they remained His disciples.  So how does Jesus validate a person’s discipleship?  The way that Jesus made disciples is the key and the end product is the proof.  Disciples are called by Jesus to follow Him.  That means, chosen by Him to follow Him, but they are never kept from leaving Him.  Indeed, when many disciples left Him as a result of His hard teaching in John 6, Jesus did not ask a single one who were leaving to stay… not one.  In fact, quite the opposite, He said to those who remained, “You do not want to leave too, do you?”  Having chosen and called you, Jesus does not compel you to stay.  In fact, a hallmark of the disciples of Jesus is that they know they can leave Him anytime even though Jesus will never leave them even to the end of the age.  Such is the superiority of Jesus over any other discipler of men.

However, Jesus did not only teach His disciples as men teach, but also lived with His disciples, or rather, allowed His disciples to see Him where He lived so that when John’s disciples asked Jesus, “…where are You staying?”  Jesus replied to them, “Come and you will see.”

However, all these hallmarks of Jesus’ discipleship methods can be imitated and counterfeited and as such, are really not definitive hallmarks.  What Jesus did to the eleven was to not only teach them, show them, live with them, love them and so on, but He enabled and empowered them to do what He was able to do so that when He sent them out, first the 12 and then the 72, He gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness, and to the 72 He said, “Heal the sick who are there…” and the 72 came back reporting, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in Your Name.”  That is, the 72 experienced what the 12 experienced even though they were only told to heal the sick.  Having shown them they too could do some of the things He had been doing, He then sealed the quality of the discipleship when He told the eleven, “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in Me, anyone who has faith in Me, can do what I have been doing and even the greater things.” 

The hallmark of Jesus’ discipleship is that He turns out disciples who can do what He can do and even greater things.  That is the secret of true discipleship by Jesus and the secret of a true disciple of Jesus.  They are the ones who are able to make disciples like Jesus does – calls them, chooses them and lets them leave if they choose, while He chooses never to leave them and teaches them to do what He can do and even more than what He has done.  A true disciple of Jesus ensures that those who follow in his footsteps are enabled to do far more than he can, for after all, it is Jesus who gets the glory.  Few other leaders of any sort have such desires for their prodigy, that their prodigy would outdo them rather than glorify them.

Thus, those who claim to be disciples of Jesus Christ, yet find listening to Him less appealing than listening to others, who do not listen to Jesus as the well pleasing beloved Son of God, who find themselves under bondage to stay and likewise put others under bondage to stay, are really not disciples at all.  And if they cannot even heal the sick or drive out demons, worse still if demons do not submit to them, then really their claim to discipleship is in dispute.  Finally, if they are incapable of producing disciples who are able to do what Jesus has been doing and even the greater things, then certainly any claim they have to being disciples, no matter how arrogant they are, can be settled with these words of Paul:  …I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have.  For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.  The authenticity of a disciple then lays in his attitude of listening to Jesus and remaining with Him and the power he is entrusted with to do the things that are even greater than what Jesus did.

It is from believers that disciples are chosen, and from the disciples (the eleven) that servants were chosen, and from servants are friends made… for it was to the eleven to whom Jesus said, “You are My friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you.”  And it was about these same friends that He said to the women, “Go and tell My brothers…”

In the churches devoted to the Jerusalem tradition, anyone who says, “Jesus Christ is Lord,” or wears a cross or attends a fellowship meeting is a believer.  Discipleship is something they choose, not chosen for them.  A theological degree from some Bible college or seminary is often the letter they use to prove their discipleship… even a life of sacrifice, that is, they have paid the price of discipleship.  For them, anyone is a servant, friend or even a brother… not so for the Galileans. 

Even though we hold to this desire of God – for all to be saved and non to perish – we recognise salvation has nothing to do with being in the Family of God and His Son, for Jesus’ testimony is… “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”  Salvation is provided for the world created that cannot believe and available for those who do believe… but sonship – brotherhood and sisterhood with Jesus – is based on God’s choice and calling as well as election.  And it is achieved through those who believe who are then discipled, who serve, who become His friends and finally His brothers (and sisters).

His brothers and sisters are those who hear God’s word and obey it to do God’s will, who come from the ranks of validated believers, empowered disciples, who have proved their service with friendship to agape Him.  And there is no greater proof of that agape than those who allowed themselves to be beheaded for the sake of His Gospel and their testimony of Him.  They will return with Him as the first witnesses of the truth of John 11.25.

Now we are to raise up brothers and sisters for Jesus who will be the witnesses of the truth of John 11.26, who will greet their Brother on His arrival at the Mount of Olives… so that on a day called Today, the Lord can say to the Father, “I have brothers and sisters waiting for Me at the Mount of Olives.  Send Me to them, Father.”  Amen.

“You do not want to leave too, do you?”

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