I want to describe the work of God’s Holy Spirit upon His people who follow Him devoutly over a lifetime. There seem to be no words that accurately describe this state as those available are inadequate, for example, devotee, expert, aficionado, disciple, partisan, evangelist, professor, and elder fail to describe more than one aspect or characteristic.
The believer must and does grow up in Christ. (1 Peter 2:2; Eph. 4:16) There is a process of reaching maturity, just as our physical bodies mature, so should our ethereal Soul and Spirit grow as God works sanctification, justification and holiness in the Believers life. The Pilgrims Progress by John Bunyan describes and articulates in allegory fashion this work of God within the human soul. Moreover, it presents what may happen when that progress is interrupted or rejected. The scripture is in full support that Believers become students of God’s word, the Bible. Yeshua (Jesus’ Hebrew name) called all who would believe to become disciples following His teaching, example and ways.
As disciples of our Teacher and Lord Yeshua, we learn and become proficient in various disciplines and regimens. Beginning as infants in the faith with learn to pray, first as supplicants asking that our needs and His will be done, but we move on to confession, intercession, and possibly to prophetic prayer. (Rom. 8:26-27) We begin to read the Word and study, meditate, memorize and otherwise incorporate and handle God’s word. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15) I’m tempted to describe every marvelous facet of the Believers life, but they are obvious to those for whom I seek a term. These characteristics and gifts were Paul’s desire, “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong—that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” (Rom. 1:11-12) Who knows the limits of God’s training, gifting, assignments, instruction, revelation, apprenticeship, and equipping which He imparts to His Children.
In seeking to describe what no term has accomplished I recognize the trap of pride. “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. (Rom. 12:3-5) We can take false pride in distinctions, differences, achievements, and titles, but all pride is false, because these are gifts from God through the Spirit, for others and not of ourselves. Furthermore, to the extent we did anything, other than submit in obedience and receive by faith that which God gives, we have not received anything of worth.
There would be negative connotations to this term from some secular detractors, such as, these people are close minded, isolated from the world, enmeshed in just a single philosophy and pursuit, captive to dogma, bigoted and others. In some respects these would be accurate, though misunderstood, because the secular world hates Yeshua, God’s children, and the Truth. Take heart you champion and overcomer in Messiah, keep running your race, for “…we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28)
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