Although each newly converted person becomes Christ’s pupil at baptism, the process of being taught spiritual laws, concepts, and principles cannot begin in earnest until you have surrendered every aspect of you life to the Father and understand that you have been called to participate whole-heartedly as an integral part of his family. Moreover, if you refuse to advance as a student of truth, you become unfruitful and can become an impediment to the progress of other family members.
A child of God cannot remain static in their spiritual growth for very long. You either go forward toward spiritual maturity and the fulfillment of the functions and responsibilities for which you are called during this age or you regresses toward your old behavior. See Jesus’ admonition to the Ephesians and Laodiceans in Revelation 2:5-6 and 3:15-19.
Note: Loadicea’s Lukewarm attitude is tantamount to standing still Spiritually.
Prerequisites For Knowledge and Understanding
The following are some of the prerequisites for the acquisition of spiritual knowledge and understanding that the scriptures clearly show as necessary:
You must be seeking to know and understand the Father’s will for your life.
You must ask for knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.
You must study the Father’s truth and way of truth.
You must be in obedience to the Father and his way of life.
If you fail to do these things, you will not gain spiritual knowledge and understanding. Other things that can cause a lack of knowledge and understanding are quenching the power of the holy spirit, rebelling against God, or allowing something or someone to take priority in your life above your commitment to the Father.
Note: That commitment being your willingness to follow God’s word rather than a man and to determine for your self the difference.
Paul exhorted the Thessalonians to do the things that would promote spiritual growth and warned them not to restrain or suppress the power of the holy spirit in their life. See1 Thes.4:1-12; Lk.19:12-26; Lk.17:7-10:
“Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the spirit. . .” (1.Thes.5:17-19 KJV).
If you become lazy and refuse to put forth the effort to pray, show gratitude to the Father, study, meditate, and yield your life to the Father, the power of the holy spirit becomes weak and useless within you. When this happens, you are in danger of losing the power of the spirit in your life. If this is not corrected, it will result in eternal death. However, when you exercise the holy spirit in a positive manner, you can grow spiritually and become a productive member in the Father’s family.
Note: Paul tells the Hebrews that to grow spiritually you must move on to strong meat and that you can only handle that if your senses have been exercised by use, to know the difference between good and evil. Hebrews 5:14
A Beginning and Progress
Unless you become the best student of the truth and the way of truth you can be, there is little likelihood that you will make much progress in the knowledge and understanding of things of the spirit or fulfill the functions and responsibilities for which you were called to perform as a member of the Father’s family.
It is a given that those who proclaim the Father’s good news message as evangelists, must clearly know and understand what they are talking about.
It is also a given that those who occupy an official function or responsibility of service to their brothers and sisters within the Father’s family must be well versed and practiced in the Father’s truth and way of truth before being allowed to fulfill an official position of service. See 1Tim.3:1-16.
But, where do these individuals obtain the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom necessary to fulfill their functions and responsibilities within the church? They learn these things through the process of being willing, dedicated, and teachable students of truth.
The simple truth is that no one can learn the Father’s will for their life or become conversant with his laws, precepts, and principles by osmosis. You cannot do what you are not equipped to do! If you desire to please the Father with your life and become a beneficial member of his family, you must put forth the time and effort to be a dedicated and responsible student of his truth and way of truth.
To those who are truly serious about their calling, Jesus leaves no doubt as to the type of commitment that must be made in order to truly follow his teachings as a student of truth:
“Anyone who comes to me must love me more than he does his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, or sisters, and yes, even more than his own life, otherwise he cannot be my pupil [Greek: disciple]. And no one can be my pupil who does not bear his own cross and follow me. . . whoever of you that will not forsake everything he has, cannot be my pupil” (Lk.14:26-27,33 Para.).
Topic Note and Question: What exactly do you think it means to bear your own cross?
Seek the Kingdom of God First
“Don’t be anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, how will we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knows that you need all of these things. But seek you first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be supplied to you. Don’t be anxious about tomorrow; because, tomorrow will take care of itself. . .” (Matt.6:31-34 KJV Para.).
Those who are serious about their calling should not be overly concerned with the things of this life; they should be concerned about the things that will last forever.
The apostle Paul told Timothy that anyone who is serious about doing a work for the Father cannot become overly involved with the cares of this physical life; therefore, you must be single-minded in your service to the Father. True discipleship and stewardship requires a total commitment to the Sovereign Father, Jesus Christ, and your calling:
Note: How does bearing your own cross and total commitment compare and relate to each other?
“No one serving as a solider gets entangled with the affairs of this life, so that he can please the one whom he serves and those who compete in athletic events must follow the rules or they will be disqualified and not win the prize” (2.Tim.2: 4-5 Para.).
Every one of the Father’s children is a disciple (i.e., a student) of his truth and way of truth. Some are in the beginning phases of their spiritual education, some are more advanced students, and some have advanced enough in their spiritual growth and maturity to become teachers of God’s truth while continuing their responsibility as a student. Regardless of what level of spiritual maturity you have attained or what function or responsibility you perform as a member of the Father’s family, you are to remain a student of the truth and the way of truth throughout your life.
Being a perpetual student of the Father’s truth and way of truth is a
lifestyle(Way of Life) with a purpose. It is an active participation in a process of growing in favor with the Father, learning his truth and way of truth, and applying what is learned in your daily life. Discipleship is a dynamic activity; it is not static.
As true disciples with whom the Father has placed tremendous spiritual resources, we should be willing to learn and grow in grace and in the knowledge of God the Father and Jesus Christ (1.Pet.1:2; 2.Pet.3:18). Moreover, a disciple should trust in their ability to successfully overcome the obstacles of this present life and become an immortal spirit-being in the Father’s heavenly kingdom.
Note – Question: Do we really know what these Spiritual Resources ARE?
STUDENTS OF TRUTH
In chapters, four, five, and six of Paul’s letter to the elect at Ephesus, he speaks of the Father’s collective earthly family and how it should work together to accomplish the purpose for its existence. Paul also explains that the Father’s elect should not think and behave like people without God’s spirit. Moreover, he says that the elect should set aside the attitudes and behaviors of their past life that were in opposition to righteousness; instead, they should think and behave in a godly manner. See also Col.3:1-25, 4:1-6.
It is the transforming of your former thought process, attitude, and behavior into that which is godly that most of the commentary and instruction in the New Testament deals with. This process of transformation cannot be ignored if you desire to enter into the Father’s heavenly kingdom as an immortal spirit-being. This process as shown throughout the Bible involves being both a student and steward of the Father’s truth and way of truth within his earthly family of king-priests.
If you are truly serious about your salvation and being a viable productive member of the Father’s earthly family, being educated in the Father’s truth and way of truth and performing your role as a steward in his family are vital to your spiritual success.
Although this study explains the meaning of discipleship and stewardship and the importance of fulfilling these responsibilities within the Father’s family, the following questions need to be answered in order to fulfill these responsibilities:
- What are the first subjects that you should study and apply in your life?
How do you become educated in the Father’s truth, his way of truth, and his rules of conduct for his family?
How do you fulfill your personal obligation as a steward within the Father’s family?
Setting goals to become educated in the Father’s truth and to become a productive steward in his family are obviously necessary if you are to progress spiritually. But, setting goals and accomplishing them are two very different things. It should also be obvious that, in order to make any progress toward accomplishing these goals, you must have an action plan. Without an action plan, little or no progress will be made toward accomplishing your goals. The following are some suggestions as to how to produce a personal action plan for spiritual success.
1. Let the Father know through prayer (and fasting if you feel the need) that you are serious about knowing and understanding his will for your life, growing in grace and in the knowledge of him, his son, his truth, and his way of truth, and serving him to the best of your ability. Ask the Father to provide you with spiritual knowledge, understanding, discernment, and gifts of the spirit that are necessary for you to fulfill his purpose for your life.
Will the Father hear and answer this type of commitment and request? Absolutely, he will. While speaking to a multitude of people, Jesus said the following about the Father’s willingness to give good things to his children:
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you: For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matt.7:7-11 KJV). See also Jn.14:14, 15:7; Heb.4: 16; Jms.3:16-18; Phil.2:12-13.
In this example, Jesus reveals a major key that will help unlock the great truths to be found in the Bible. A person must not only desire to have spiritual knowledge and understanding but also go to the Father and ask to be given this knowledge and understanding, and then diligently seek it by making a sincere effort to study and meditate on his words:
“Blessed are they which hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled” (Matt.5:6 Para.). See also Psa.119:33-40; Jer. 10:23-24.
The Father is more than willing to give knowledge and understanding of the things that will benefit those he has called to salvation. It is his desire to give us the spiritual nourishment that is necessary for spiritual growth. See 1.Pet.2:2.
Define your goals. What is the ultimate goal that the Father has for each individual he calls during this age of salvation? The Father’s goal is for each individual he calls to become a member of his heavenly family and kingdom as an immortal spirit-being. Therefore, your primary goal should be the same (See 1.Cor.15:35-54; Rev. 21:5-7). All other goals are merely an extension of this primary goal and should serve to accomplish it.
Develop a personal action plan for success and then put this plan into action. The following are three important reasons that you must develop a personal action plan for success:
It is evident that during this age, no central authority exists on earth governing the Sovereign Father’s family of king-priests scattered throughout the nations or teaching them his truth and way of truth clearly and concisely.
There are many who teach within the congregations of the elect who are unqualified to teach truth for one reason or another. See Matt.7:15, 24:11, 24; 2.Pet.2:1-3; 1.Jn.4:1.
Each individual the Father calls to salvation is totally responsible for their own spiritual success or failure. See Phil.2:12-16; Eph.4: 21-24; Rom.12:1-2, 14:10-12; 2.Cor.5:10.
THE INSTRUCTION MANUAL
The Bible is the instruction manual for those who have been called to salvation and it contains all of the knowledge and understanding necessary in order for you to grow spiritually and succeed in the performance of your functions and responsibilities within the Father’s earthly family. Therefore, before providing some tips on how to develop a personal plan for spiritual success, there are some important issues and concepts that need to be clarified concerning the Bible and its study.
The first thing to firmly fix in your mind prior to studying the Bible is that God’s written word is truth and there are no contradictions in what he has caused to be written.
Jesus said of God’s word, “Your word is truth” (Jn.17:17) and “The scripture cannot be broken” (Jn.10:35). God inspired the Bible to be written and it is impossible for God to lie (Heb.6:18; Tit.1:2); therefore, God’s word will always be true (Rom.3:4).
The problem with seemingly contradictory scriptures is never with what God has inspired to be written; it is always with people’s perspective or understanding of what has been written or with how it has been translated or interpreted from the original writing.
Consider this for a moment: If God is a God of truth who cannot lie and he has said that he inspired and instructed his prophets, servants, and apostles to record all that is his sacred word, there cannot be any errors, lies, or contradictions in his originally inspired written word.
Seemingly unsolvable scriptural contradictions are normally the product of one or more of the following:
An error in translation from the original language.
An error in the interpretation of the original language.
Insufficient research on the subject.
Translated from an erroneous or incomplete copy of the original text.
Because the above conditions may exist, doctrine should never be established by using vague or difficult to understand scriptures. All major teachings of the Bible, such as those concerning God and his plan of salvation, are easily understood and set forth in clear concise statements that prove their validity to anyone whom God is calling to salvation.
A major error that should be avoided when studying the Bible and related documents is the belief that the more ancient a manuscript or a document is, the more accurate it is. This is a very dangerous assumption to make. Just because a document is ancient, does not make it accurate. The test of accuracy is the test of truth and the continuity of truth. If an ancient writing does not conform to proven biblical truth and departs from the overall theme and continuity of the Bible, it should not be used to establish doctrine.
Because no original writings of the scriptures are available and centuries have passed since their writing, all modern translations and interpretations of the original text contain some error due to one or more of the following:
Additions or omissions due to private interpretation Justification by translators for false teaching Lack of attention to detail Lack of the correct linguistic information Poor scholarship
Truth Will Endure
God has promised that his truth will never be lost. Although there may be copy errors or translation errors of the original writings, the truth and the will of God can still be found and understood by those to whom he chooses to reveal it. See Jer.33:3; Lk.11:9-13; Jn.14:26; 16:12-13; 1.Cor.2:9-16.
The Bible Interprets Itself
Trying to justify preconceived ideas and beliefs are a major obstacle to gaining a correct understanding of any biblical subject. The proper approach to understanding the Bible should be an unbiased attempt to understand what is truly written and not what a person thinks is written. However, this is very difficult to do because of the vast amount of false teaching about God and the Bible today.
Because of the way the Bible has been written, it will interpret itself if you are willing to collect all of the relevant facts and references and let the holy spirit guide your mind into truth.
Precept upon Precept
Those who think that the Bible sometimes contradicts itself have failed to understand that the Bible is a complex book, which must be studied as a whole if its mysteries are to be understood.
One of the most fascinating and inspiring aspects of the Bible’s construction is the way various subjects are interwoven throughout its pages. Because of this, it is sometimes necessary to collect all of the references to a subject before you can begin to understand what is being taught:
“For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little” (Isa.28:10 KJV). See also Isa.28:9-13.
Continuity of Truth
There is a continuity of truth throughout the entire Bible which is very helpful in separating truth from error. Each specific teaching or doctrine of the Bible will conform to the overall theme and purpose of the entire Bible. If any teaching or doctrine is found to be in conflict with another, one or both of the teachings may be based upon false assumptions or incorrectly understood scriptures.
Acquiring Knowledge and Understanding
Many feel that a person must be highly educated or very intelligent to understand the Bible, but this is not true. All those whom the Father calls to salvation can understand what he has caused to be written for their inspiration, correction, and edification. Because the Father wants his children to succeed in their calling and to perform his will in their lives, he has provided a way for them to learn and understand his truth.
Among the many promises Jesus makes to those who believe in him, is that he will send the holy spirit as a teacher to guide them into truth. See Jn.14:26; 16:12-13.
One way that the holy spirit carries out teaching and guiding is through the written word of God. The acquisition of truth, spiritual knowledge, and understanding with the help of the holy spirit requires effort on the part of the one being called to study the Bible and related information.
Whom Shall God Teach?
“Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts” (Isa.28:9).
Just as there is a physical growth process from infancy to adulthood, there is a spiritual growth process in the acquisition of spiritual knowledge and understanding. The more you learn and the more you practice what you have learned, the more spiritually mature you become and the more spiritual knowledge and understanding God can reveal to you. See Isa.66:1-2.
STUDY FOR SPIRITUAL GROWTH
If you only study the Bible for information, very little understanding that is profitable for spiritual growth will be gained. However, your studies will become spiritually profitable if you study the Bible in order to do the following things:
Understand the Father’s plan for humanity Know the Father’s will in your life Learn what the Father’s expects of you Grow toward spiritual maturity Serve the Father and his children Understand how to fulfill your particular calling
If you study the Bible for these reasons, the Father will honor your request for him to reveal the mysteries of the Bible that will benefit you and others with whom you come into contact.
Prerequisites and Requirements
The Bible itself reveals the prerequisites and requirements that are necessary to be successful in its study. The following are some of the major things that you must do in order to acquire more knowledge and a deeper understanding of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and their awesome plan for humanity:
Ask the Father for spiritual knowledge and understanding.
Have a serious desire to understand the things of God and study with an open mind.
Make what is learned a part of your life.
Meditate on God’s law in order to improve spiritual understanding.
Remember and practice the things which are already understood to be the truth of God.
Remove obstacles to learning by putting away improper attitudes and behavior.
Study to grow spiritually, to serve others, and to fulfill your calling.
Remove Obstacles to Learning
The Apostle Peter lists some of the things that hamper spiritual growth which should be replaced with a desire to understand God’s truth and way of truth:
“Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1.Pet.2:1-2 Para.).
In order to gain understanding into the more difficult things of God, you must be practicing the basic truths of God in your life:
“But whoever keeps his [God’s] word, in him truly is the love of God perfected. . .” (1.Jn.2:5 KJV).
Meditate on God’s Word
“Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel ofthe ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law ofthe Lord; and in his law does he meditate day and night” (Psa.1:1-2 KJV). See also Psa.119:115-148; 1.Tim. 4:12-16.
There are tremendous blessings for those who perform the will of God in their life. The person who is being blessed loves God and his law (i.e., God’s way of life) and is constantly thinking about both.
Prove all Things
“Test all things; and hold fast that which is good” (1.Thes.5:21 Para.). See also Rom.12:2.
This statement is in the context of a person doing the Father’s will in their life. Paul refers to the testing or examining of what you are doing in your life and comparing it against the righteous standards of behavior that the Father has established. Notice that Paul says to “Holdfast that which is good.” You can only know what is good if you understand the word of God. Therefore, you must study the Bible in order to fulfill Paul’s instruction.
The kind of true enduring belief that the Father desires for his children to have is based in the knowledge and understanding of him and his ways. The only place this kind of knowledge and understanding is available is in the Bible.
The Bible was written to be understood. It is not a book of theory, philosophy, or meaningless stories. It is a logical factual presentation of the things that God wants his children to know, understand, and practice.
PLAN FOR SUCCESS
An action plan containing goals for spiritual success is a valuable tool that can help you maintain focus on your goals to grow in the Father’s truth and to perform your stewardship within his family. The following are some tips on how to develop a personal plan for spiritual success, some important subjects to make a part of your study plan, and some important attitudes and behaviors to cultivate as you learn and practice the Father’s truth and way of truth:
Write your plan in a binder, hard bound book, spreadsheet, or some other format in order to more easily store, access, review, and edit it.
Make a list of topics categories, and sub-topics to study and things to accomplish, such as attitudes and behaviors that need to be cultivated and become a part of your character, as well as unrighteous attitudes and behaviors that need to be discarded. The items in this list should be clearly defined and simply stated.
If you are creating a paper-based plan leave enough space under each item in your list or place each item on a separate piece of paper in order for you to keep your notes and comments close to each item.
Prioritize your list and check off items as you complete them.
Make your action plan a flexible tool that you can modify periodically to fit your needs.
Review your plan often in order to check your progress and add or edit items to maintain focus on your goals.
THE STUDY PLAN
Regardless of how you structure your action plan for learning and understanding the Father’s truth and will for your life, a high priority should be given to reading the entire Bible from cover to cover at least once.
There are many translations of the Bible and each has its own particular strengths and weaknesses. Some help clarify difficult scriptures and concepts, while others do the opposite—they introduce heretical teachings. Because there is no totally accurate translation of the original text, the admonition of Paul to Timothy becomes very important to those who are serious about building a strong, spiritual foundation based upon the word of God:
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2.Tim.2:15 NKJV).
No Original Text Available
When reading the Bible, it is important to remember that no original copies of the biblical text are available for use by scholars or the general public. What exist today are copies of the originals and translations of these copies, which would seem to make it impossible to prove the validity of the biblical record. However, the author of the Bible has hidden many undeniable proofs within the biblical text which reveal that what has been recorded is his word. Those who diligently study the Bible will find this proof which is overlooked by the casual reader.
The King James Version
The King James Authorized version of the Bible, written in early modern English in 1611, was translated from the Masoretic text and the Received text. From the historical evidence and the continuity of truth that is revealed through both the Masoretic text and the Received text, it appears that both of these are reference works through which God is conveying his truth and his will today.
Because of the King James versions’ archaic language, it is helpful to have some modern translations along with Greek and Hebrew dictionaries in order to help clarify difficult passages. The New International Version and the Living Bible can sometimes be helpful in translating concepts that are difficult to understand because of the language of the King James version. You may also find it helpful to purchase a narrated version of the Bible to listen to while reading, while traveling, or while being unoccupied with other endeavors.
Many people take one scripture (sometimes out of context) and build an entire teaching around it. However, the Prophet Isaiah tells us that God’s truth is scattered throughout his written word (Isa.28:9-13) and that these truths, concepts, and principles are built upon each other. Therefore, it seems logical that you must perform a search of the entire Bible in order to gain a thorough understanding of a subject. Personally, I have found that topical studies are the best way to understand the teachings contained in the Bible.
A short review of the first five books of the Bible clearly reveal that God is a God of law. The agreement with the twelve tribes of national Israel contains 613 to 759 plus statutes, judgements, and commandments, depending on who is doing the counting. The special agreement that the Sovereign Father has with his earthly family of king-priests also contains laws and instructions that govern their relationship with him, their relationship with brothers and sisters in his holy family, and with other people.
A study of the law with the goal of understanding both the letter and the spirit of the law will give insight into the minds of the Sovereign Father and our Savior, their character, attitude, and behavior. Moreover, these laws reveal how one who is attempting to live a holy lifestyle should think and behave.
Love Toward God
The first laws given to national Israel were the Ten Commandments. Matthew and Mark both record that Christ said the whole law was held together by just two commandments—love for God and love for neighbor:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is similar to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt.22:37-40 KJV). See also Mk.12:28-34.
If you truly have love and respect for your heavenly Father, you will want to please him with your life by following Jesus’ example of a righteous life. The Father said of Christ at his baptism, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt.3:17).
The scriptures show us that love and respect for the Father are expressed through one’s attitude and behavior toward him and obedience and respect for the law he has set in place to govern the lives of his children. Regarding his behavior toward the Father, Jesus said, “For I do always those things that please him” (Jn.8:29).
Concerning the expression of godly love, the apostle John said, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1.Jn.5:2-3).
All of God’s law for mankind hinge on the two basic themes of love for God and love for neighbor, but there are many overlapping concepts and principles contained within this body of law which explain and expound upon these two basic themes.
ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIORS
The scriptures instruct the Father’s children to subdue and keep in check their old nature which is in opposition to the holy nature imparted through the indwelling of the holy spirit. See Rom.6:6-12; Eph.4:21-24:
The apostles Peter and Paul list a number of righteous attitudes and behaviors that need to be cultivated and become a part of your character and a number unrighteous attitudes and behaviors that need to be discarded. Many of these attitudes and behaviors are noted in the following scriptures and are worthy of careful study: 1.Pet.2:1; Rom.13: 11-14; 1.Cor.13:11; Eph.4:21-32; Col.3:3-15.
Cultivate charity, forgiveness, honesty, humility, kindness, long-suffering, meekness, mercy, peace, tenderheartedness, and truthfulness.
Discard anger, bitterness, blasphemy, drunkenness, envy, evil desires, extortion, filthy speech, fornication, guile, hypocrisy, idolatry, inordinate affection, lying, malice, rioting, theft, uncleanness, and wrath.
Added to the list of attitudes and behaviors to be discarded are things that are clearly in opposition to a righteous lifestyle, such as some personal associations, habits, hobbies, as well as religious holidays, festivals, and celebrations that belong to this world’s religions. See 1.Pet.1:15-16; Deut.12:30-32; Jer.10:1-15.
Rules of Conduct
Although it is important to become conversant with all aspects of the Father’s truth, there are some basic rules of conduct that apply within his family which need to be clearly understood and practiced if you are to grow spiritually and become a viable and beneficial member of his family. These rules of conduct and the philosophy behind them are set forth in the Bible as the standards of acceptable and unacceptable attitudes and behaviors for all members of the Father’s family.
Each of these rules are clearly spelled out in many scriptures and should be among the first things you learn and make a part of your lifestyle as a member of the Father’s earthly family. Without knowing and understanding these rules of conduct, it is virtually impossible to be a good steward of the functions and responsibilities that you have been called to perform. Moreover, these rules also reveal how to express love (i.e., an outgoing concern) for family members and produce peace and harmony within the family. The apostle John said the following about walking in truth (i.e., following the Father’s rules for your life) and the rule to love one another within the family:
“I rejoiced greatly that I found of your children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father. And now I beseech you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.. . . Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (1.Jn.4-6 KJV).
Although some of the rules of conduct are clearly intended to be applied to individuals occupying positions of service within the family or are gender specific, most apply in principle to all family members, regardless of position of service or gender. The following are some of these rules of conduct with which each member should be conversant and practice as a part of their stewardship within the family:
Attitude and behavior toward doctrinally deceptive individuals
Commandment keeping (1.Jn.5:1-3)
Compassion (1.Pet.3:8; 1.Jn.3:17-18)
Forbearance and forgiveness (Matt.5:23-24; Lk.17:3-4; Eph.4:
Honor/Respect/Value other people: (Eph.6:2; 1.Tim.5:3; 1.Pet.2: 17, 3:7)
Love for each family member (Rom.12:9-10; 1.Pet.4:7-8; 1.Jn.
Be circumspect and honorable, have self control, be incorruptible in the faith, benevolent, and consistent (Titus 2:2).
Be sound-minded, a model of virtuous works reflecting righteousness, have integrity, be dignified, and have speech that cannot be condemned (Titus 2:6-7).
Be circumspect and honorable, have self control, be incorruptible in the faith, benevolent and consistent, have holy behavior, shun evil behavior, drink wine in moderation, and be a teacher of righteousness
Servants (voluntary or indentured):
Be subordinate/obedient to your master, make an effort to please your master, do not be argumentative, and be an example of your Saviors instructions (Titus 2:9-10; Col.3:22).
Husband and Wife Relationships:
Sexual relations (1.Cor.7:3-5)
Unconverted spouse (1.Cor.7:12-16 )
Submission, love, and honor (Eph.5:22-25; Col.3:18-19; 1.Pet.3:
Divorce (Matt.5:32, 19:9; Lk.16:18)
Young, Married Women:
Be discreet, morally beyond reproach, maternal, affectionate and subordinate to one’s husband, and modest in dress and appearance (Titus 2:4-5; 1.Pet.3:1-3).
Do not attack another person’s character (Titus 3:2).
Avoid absurd questions about genealogies, as well as arguments and controversy about God’s law (Titus 3:9).
Shun profane babbling (2.Tim.2:16).
Do not utter foul speech (Eph.4:29; 1.Pet.3:10).
The following scriptures contain a number of rules that apply to those who serve within the family in an official capacity. See 1.Cor.4:1-2; 1.Tim.3:1-11, 5:1-3; 2.Tim.2:24-25; 1.Pet.5:1-6; Titus 1:5-10.
The Judicial system for resolving personal and collective problems within the Father’s earthly family is clearly set forth in Matthew, chapter 18 and should be studied and understood. In this chapter, Christ sets forth a step-by-step procedure that each member should follow in order to resolve problems within the collective church. The following is a short list of judicial rules of conduct and instructions concerning how to deal with specific situations within the Father’s family:
Accusation, rebuke, and sanction of an elder (1.Tim.5:19-21) Conflict resolution (1.Cor.6:1-9)
Rebuke and forgiveness (Lk.17:3-4; Matt.18:15, 18-22) Punishment (Matt.18:17; 1.Tim.5:20)
How to treat a heretic after failure to heed two reprimands (Titus
• Withdraw from the disorderly brethren (Rom.16:17-18; 1.Cor.5: 9-11; 2.Thes.3:6, 14-15; 1.Tim.6:5)
Due Diligence As A Student
As previously stated in this study, the simple truth is that no one can learn the Father’s will for their life or become conversant with his laws, precepts, and principles by osmosis. Learning and practicing the Father’s truth and way of truth takes time and effort.
If you are serious about being educated in the Father’s truth and way of truth, it is your responsibility to do one or both of the following: 1) Seek out spiritual leaders whom you believe are teaching truth and study their teachings as they relate to biblical topics; 2) Design your own course of study without a spiritual leader or teacher.
Regardless of what method of study you choose to pursue, it is your responsibility as a student of truth to put forth a diligent effort to determine whether or not what is being taught or studied conforms to the Father’s truth and way of truth as contained in the Bible. See 2.Tim.2:15-16; Phil.2:12-13; Heb.11:6.
There is a tremendous misconception during this age of the church that only the ministry and those in official positions of service to the collective church are stewards of the church. This misconception has for generations effectively neutralized the Father’s family as a powerful and effective instrument of Christ in proclaiming the Father’s plan of salvation to humanity, proclaiming his soon coming kingdom to the world, and preparing a people to rule the world with him after his return.
What is a steward and what is stewardship? Who are the stewards and what is the function of stewardship within the Sovereign Father’s earthly family of king-priests?
The English word steward as used in the New Testament is translated from the Greek words epitropos and oikonomos and their various derivatives. Depending on the context in which they are used, these words can mean either a commissioner or a steward:
A domestic manager or guardian
The management of a household, lands, or an estate and its affairs, specifically, the administration, management, or oversight of another person’s property.
One who has the care and tutelage of children
One to whose care or honor anything has been entrusted, an overseer, (i.e., an employee in that capacity). By extension, a fiscal agent, treasurer of household affairs; especially a manager or a superintendent.
Although there are many nuances to the meaning of stewardship and the aspects of stewardship within the Father’s earthly family, the basic function of a steward and stewardship is to care for another person’s affairs or possessions with which one has been entrusted.
The Father’s children are his possessions, which he has given in trust to his firstborn son to oversee while teaching his truth and way of truth to them and administering his work on earth through them. See Eph.1:
- 23, 5:23; Col.1:16-18.
Under the stewardship of Christ, the Father has entrusted his children with stewardship over his truth and way of truth, which his children are to learn and practice to the best of their ability while administering their individual skills, talents, gifts of the spirit, and functions and responsibilities within his family as king-priests. See 1.Pet.4:1-11.
A steward within the Father’s family is simply a student of his truth, his way of truth, and his rules of conduct for his earthly family. A steward in the Father’s family is responsible for practicing and perfecting what is being learned in the context of fulfilling their personal functions and responsibilities within his family. See Eph.4:11-16.
Stewardship is the most difficult and the most rewarding phase of discipleship. Stewardship within the Father’s earthly family of king-priests requires you to be proactive in administering your personal skills, talents, gifts of the spirit, and your functions and responsibilities within the Father’s earthly family.
Stewardship is the process through which the Father’s adopted children perfect a holy attitude, holy behavior, and holy character (1.Pet.1:13-16) while exercising his purpose for them through diligent and active participation in the affairs of his earthly family. See 2.Tim.4:
- 17; Jms.3:13; 2.Pet.3:10-14.
Being a proactive steward requires you to make and carry out personal decisions predicated on your education in the Father’s truth, his way of truth, and his rules of conduct for members of his earthly family of king-priests.
It is through voluntary, active involvement in the affairs of the Father’s earthly family as a steward of his truth, his way of truth, and the practice and enforcement of his rules of conduct within his family of king-priests that you can truly grow spiritually and become a viable, productive, and beneficial member within his family.
Each member of the Father’s earthly family is bought and paid for with the blood of Christ. Therefore, each member is obliged to be a trustworthy steward of their own mind and body, because they belong to the Father by right of purchase:
“What? Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the holy spirit which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own? For you are bought with a price: therefore honor God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1.Cor.6:19-20 Para.).
“For one that is called in the Lord, being a slave, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also one that is called, being free, is Christ’s slave. You are bought with a price; do not be the slaves of men” (1.Cor.7:22-23 Para.).
Stewardship within the Sovereign Father’s earthly family begins the instant you receive the indwelling of the holy spirit. From this point forward the things that come under your stewardship continue to increase as your spiritual knowledge, understanding, and gifts of the spirit are increased. Likewise, the things that you are responsible to increase in value for the Father also increase in number.
The simple fact is that everyone who is adopted into the Father’s family of earthly king-priests is a steward within his family.
All who are called to participate in the first resurrection are expected to perform certain tasks and fulfill certain responsibilities for their Heavenly Father while living in the flesh. However, few realize this important fact and therefore most are ill prepared for their role as a steward within the Father’s family. This situation exists because of a lack of education in the Father’s truth, his way of truth, and a steward’s functions and responsibilities within his family.
PROFITABLE AND UNPROFITABLE STEWARDS
In the parable about the events that will precede his return, Jesus explains the need for each steward in the Father’s earthly family to be actively working to increase the value of what has been entrusted to them.
It is no accident that Matthew records the parable of the unprofitable servant after the parable of the Ten Virgins, which tells us that we should always be prepared to meet Christ at his coming.
“It will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. . .” (vs.14-15 NIV).
When Jesus returns, each steward within the Father’s earthly family must give an account of what they have done with what has been placed in their trust (2.Cor.5:10). The faithful stewards are the ones who increase the value of what was placed with them. These individuals receive a reward that is representative of their efforts (vs.20-23). However, some individuals will not try to increase what is entrusted to them:
“Then the man who had received the one talent came. Master, he said, I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you” (vs.24-25 NIV).
Notice what happens to the person who does nothing with the opportunities that come their way and the spiritual blessings and gifts that are given to them to increase in value:
“His master replied, You wicked, lazy servant! You knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed [i.e.,You understood what I was doing and yet you did nothing]. You should have at least put my money in the hands of an investor, then I would have received my money back with some interest added to it. . .. Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents . . .. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (vs.26, 28-30 NIV Para.).
There are many important lessons that can be learned from what is said to this unprofitable individual:
When the Father calls a person to salvation, that person has enough personal attributes to be spiritually successful and secure salvation with the help of the holy spirit dwelling in them; otherwise, that person would not have been called.
At the proper time, each person is given additional attributes according to their potential to produce value for the Father. See Rom.12:3-8; 1.Cor.12:8-10, 28-30; Eph.4:11-16.
Although each individual may have different opportunities attributes,
skills, talents, and spiritual gifts to work with, each person is required to add to the value of what they have.
The parable clearly shows that, if a person feels inadequate or is unable because of some valid reason to do an individual work by themselves, he or she should find a way to place their skills, talents, or spiritual gifts under the direction of someone who is more able to use them to produce a positive result for the Master.
The parable implies that, if a person will make an effort to accomplish something of worth for the Master, they will receive a reward for that effort.
Unprofitable individuals will not be punished because of a feeling of inadequacy or because of being unable to increase that which they were to increase; the punishment is the result of doing nothing.
The reward that the unprofitable person should have received for being a faithful steward will be given to those individuals who seize opportunity and are willing to extend themselves and make an effort to increase what they were given.
While reprimanding the Corinthians for their cliquish attitude and behavior, the apostle Paul speaks to a person’s personal work as a member of the Father’s family. Paul explains that your work will be tested for its worth. If the work does not endure the test of fire, there will be no reward for the effort. But if the work endures (i.e., has benefit to the Father), there will be a reward. Regardless of the worth of your work, you will still gain immortal life if you do indeed put forth an effort to do a work for the Father. See 1.Cor.3:1-15.
When Paul’s reprimand is viewed along with the parable of the talents (Matt.25:14-30), it becomes crystal clear that each member of the Father’s family is expected to put forth an effort to do something beneficial for him.
Clearly, each member of the Father’s family must increase their personal worth for the benefit of the Father, and each member must help to increase the overall value of the entire family through fulfilling their functions and responsibilities within his family.
You are to accomplish something of value for the Father to claim as his own. If you do nothing with what is given to you, you are considered unprofitable and will not be granted immortality. See Matt.25:14-30; Lk.19:12-27; 2.Cor.5:10; Rev.22:12.
THE FAITHFUL AND UNFAITHFUL STEWARDS
Many of the parables that Jesus spoke are clearly set in the context of stewardship in the Father’s family at the end of the age. These parables consistently show rewards for faithful and consistent performance of one’s calling and punishment for failure to perform the Father’s will in one’s life. The context of the parable of the faithful and unfaithful steward in Luke 12:42-48 is no different and leaves no doubt as to the outcome of these two opposite attitudes and behaviors:
Jesus says, “Who is that faithful and wise steward whom his Lord shall make ruler over his household?. . . Blessed is that servant who his Lord [Jesus Christ] when he comes shall find so doing. The Lord shall make him ruler over all he has” (Lk.12:42-44 Para.).
Here, Jesus gives the keys to understanding what is required in order to be a faithful and wise steward who is blessed at his coming. These keys that will help to secure your place in the first resurrection are faithfulness, wisdom, and perseverance in your walk with God.
“But if the servant [the elect] says in his heart, the Lord delays his coming [which all ten ofthe virgins did] and they begin to beat their fellow servants, and they eat and drink and get drunk. The Lord will come in the day when he is not looking for him,. .. and the Lord will cut him apart and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers” (Lk.12:45-46 Para.).
If you become lazy in your calling; neglect your responsibility to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Father and the Son; neglect diligently to carry out your functions and responsibilities as a steward of the things the Father has entrusted to you; or become abusive to others within the Father’s family, you are in serious danger of losing your salvation.
These types of attitudes and behaviors occurred during the first age of the church and can easily be found within the Father’s earthly family during this age. Being cut apart and being seen as an unbeliever alludes to the punishment of the second death from which there is no return.
“That servant who knew his lord’s will, and did not prepare, neither did his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But if he did not know [i.e., was ignorant], and did things worthy of stripes he shall be beaten with few. For to whom much is given much is required. . .” (Lk.12:47-48 Para.).
The context of verses 47 and 48 concerns the difference between knowing and not knowing what your responsibilities are before God the Father and Jesus Christ. If you know the Father’s will and know what is expected of you, but do not faithfully do it, you will be severely punished by Jesus Christ.
A person who is ignorant of what is required, will receive a lighter punishment, but not because he or she is guiltless, but because he or she is not guilty of blatant and willful rebellion. Instead, that person is guilty of being lazy and faithless in pursuit of the Father’s will in their life. See also Revelation, chapters 2 and 3.
The point in verses 47 and 48 is that the more you know about the Father’s will for your life, the greater the opportunity to grow spiritually, the greater the opportunity to serve the Father and his family, and the greater the requirement to do what you know is his will in a thoughtful and diligent manner. Whether you have a great or a small amount of skill, talent, spiritual gifts, or spiritual knowledge and understanding, you are expected to diligently seek and perform the Father’s will in your life.
The following observations by William Barclay concisely state the necessity for those who believe they are followers of the God of the Bible to diligently seek and perform the Father’s will in their life.
In The Daily Study Bible Series, The Gospel of Mark, Barclay says, “No man can tell the day or hour when eternity will invade time and the summons will come. We would like him to find us with our work completed. If we really know what Christianity means we will know that there is no part of life when the master is away. We are working and living forever in our great task master’s eyes. There is nothing so fatal as to feel that we have plenty of time” (pp.167-168).
In The Daily Study Bible Series, Gospel of Matthew Volume II, Barclay observes, ”The parable has two universal meanings, it warns us that there are certain things which cannot be obtained at the last minute. It is far too late for a student to be preparing when the day of the examination is come. It is too late for a man to acquire a skill or character if he does not already possess it. It warns us there are certain things which cannot be borrowed. A man cannot borrow a relationship with God, he must possess it for himself. We cannot always be living on a spiritual capital which others have amassed” (pp.320-321).
THE PARABLE OF THE SEEDS
Jesus spoke the parable of the sown seeds to a large crowd and ended it with this warning: “who has ears let him hear” (Matt.13:4-9). This means that those who understand must pay attention.
Who are those who have ears to hear in this age? They are those who have the holy spirit dwelling in them. These are the ones who have the ability to understand the things of the spirit. See 1.Cor.2:9-16; Jn.14:
The following is a summary of the parable of the seeds:
Within the Father’s earthly family, there are three basic categories of people:
Those who Go Backwards: These individuals endure for a while, but allow the things of the world to become more important than the pursuit of righteousness and revert to their former lifestyle.
Those who Stand still: These individuals stand still spiritually because they are spiritually lazy, lethargic, and lukewarm. These have little or no desire to grow in grace and knowledge or actively fulfill the functions and responsibilities which they were called to perform.
Those who Go forward: These individuals understand that they are expected to do the Father’s will in their life and use the physical and spiritual gifts that he gives them to produce something of value for him. These individuals are willing, dedicated, teachable, and responsible students of truth and the way of truth, they grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Father and his Son, and they are a reflection of the Father’s influence in their life. These are spiritually successful stewards who are doing the Father’s will in their life.
A DANGEROUS ATTITUDE
Of all the seven groupings of the Father’s earthly children directly spoken to by Jesus Christ, those having the Laodicean attitude are the most pointedly reprimanded and condemned by him:
“To the angel [messenger] of the church of the Laodiceans write: These things says the Amen [Jesus Christ], the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot: I wished that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to vomit you out of my mouth” (Rev.3:14-16 Para.).
These are stewards in the Father’s family who are neither faithful nor unbelieving; rather, they are completely indifferent. Their indifference and lack of commitment to the truth and the way of truth is sickening to Jesus. These individuals are so self-satisfied that they think everything is fine and that they are doing great works. They view themselves as the recipients of great spiritual understanding, but they have practically none.
Jesus says to those of the Laodicean attitude:
“Because you say, I am rich; and have need of nothing, and do not know that you are wretched, and miserable and poor and blind and naked. I advise you to buy from me gold having been refined in the fire by me, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, and your shame and nakedness may not be revealed. And anoint your eyes with eye-salve, that you may see” (Rev.3:
Here, we see a people who are so apathetic and lazy because of their perceived knowledge and spirituality that they are in danger of being cast away from God. They are self-deceived into thinking that they are spiritually rich; however, they are spiritually poor. Christ is giving them their last opportunity to repent and become zealous for God. If these people will hear and heed what he is saying, he will again establish fellowship with them. If not, they will be cast into the Lake of Fire with the unrepentant wicked. These individuals are clearly in danger of falling into the category of the unprofitable steward noted in Matthew, chapter 25, verses 24-30.
Their indifference has left them self-deluded and they do not realize they are spiritually poor, miserable, wretched, blind, and naked. Those who lead such a people and do not repent themselves are in deep trouble. These individuals have no real commitment to spiritual growth and they feel secure as long as they associate with a particular group of people. This kind of attitude leads to indifference and complacency, which will result in intense trials in the hope of awaking them to their need of genuine repentance and the performance of their commitment to the Father:
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Be zealous then, and repent. Behold I stand at the door and knock; If any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will go in to him, and I will dine with him and he with me” (Rev.3:19-20 Para.).
The kind of rebuke that Jesus speaks of here is a severe rebuke that compels a person to see the error of their ways. Christ is showing, in an extremely strong way that some of the elect who are in this decadent condition can expect extremely severe trials that come directly from him.
He says he is at the door knocking (Rev.3:19-20), hoping these wayward children will let him back into their hearts and minds. But he will not force his way into their lives. These individuals have to make a decision to repent of their nauseating quality of being spiritually lukewarm, self-satisfied, complacent, and in need of nothing.
FAILURE TO BE RESPONSIBLE
The writer to the Hebrews gave the following reprimand to those of the Father’s family who should have graduated past the beginning phases of their spiritual education and into the more advanced student-teacher function and responsibility:
“By this time you ought to be teaching others, however, you need someone to again teach you the things which are the first principles of the words of God. You have become as infants in need of milk, and not of solid food. Everyone who drinks only milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness and is an infant. Solid food is for those who have matured through having their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb.5:12-14 Para.).
The English word ought in verse 12 is translated from the Greek word opheilo, which is a word that conveys the idea of accruing or to owe. Figuratively, it means to be under an obligation. Whoever these Hebrews were, they were not fulfilling one of the reasons for their being called to salvation during that age.
These individuals could not understand anything further about the Father, Christ, the truth, and way of truth. Because these individuals were lazy in their pursuit of spiritual knowledge, they were going backward instead of forward in their spiritual understanding. They were losing sight of the Father’s vision and goal for their lives and the rest of humanity.
Why were they not fulfilling this responsibility? There are only two logical answers to this question. These individuals were either not mentally capable of instructing others in the Father’s truth and way of truth or they were too lazy to spend the time and effort that is necessary to become well versed in the Father’s truth and way of truth. Because the scriptures tell us that the Father has given the spirit of a sound mind (i.e., a mind capable of discipline and self-control) to those who are his and has given the holy spirit to lead one into truth, it must have been that they were simply lazy 2.Tim.1:7; Jn.16:13.
The English word teach in verse 12 is translated from the Greek word didaskalos, which means an instructor and is used in a number of scriptures in reference to the apostles and those who taught among the elect. See 1.Cor.12:28; 1.Tim.2:7; 2.Tim.1:11, 4:3.
These individuals are in spiritual jeopardy because they have not advanced past the first learning phase of their spiritual walk and have allowed the things they did learn to slip away.
The importance of teaching is self-evident. Without being instructed in the Father’s truth, way of truth, and rules of conduct for his earthly family, no progress can be made toward the goal of spiritual perfection, and the Father’s truth and way of truth cannot be represented correctly.
The function of teaching within the church carries with it the responsibility to make sure that what one teaches is truth, because if what one teaches is not correct or not thoroughly explained, it has the potential to adversely affect a person’s life and spiritual growth. This is why the apostle James said, “My brothers, Not many of you should be teachers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more severely” (Jms.3:1 Para.).
It should be obvious that new students of truth are not equipped to teach what they do not yet fully know or understand. However, a more advanced student who is conversant with the foundational elements of the truth and the way of truth should be able to explain basic concepts and principles to others. This type of knowledge falls well within what the apostle Peter said about sanctifying the Lord God in our hearts and always being ready to explain the reason that we have a hope of salvation (See 1.Pet.3:15-17).
Three things are necessary in order to fulfill the teaching function:
A teacher must know and understand the subject that is to be taught.
A teacher must be able to present the subject to be taught in an understandable fashion.
A teacher must have students who are willing to be taught.
Before a person can assume the function of teaching within the Father’s family, that person must clearly know and understand what is to be taught. The understanding of what to teach comes through the process of learning and experiencing the truth and the way of truth and growing in grace and in the knowledge of the Father and his Son, our Savior. As a person grows in knowledge and understanding, they will naturally be able to explain what they know to another person.
The reprimand by the writer to the Hebrews can easily apply to other functions and responsibilities that are to be performed within the Father’s earthly family. Many other functions and responsibilities also require a depth of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom in the Father’s truth and way of truth before a person can adequately fulfill them. Therefore, being a willing, diligent, and teachable student of truth is a prerequisite to fulfilling your functions and responsibilities. You cannot do what you are not equipped to do!
Not a Novice
The apostle Paul told Timothy there are many prerequisites that must be in place before a person who desires to serve his brothers and sisters in the faith as a bishop (an overseer) can take on this responsibility. See.1.Tim. 3:1-13.
Although it is neither necessary nor possible for everyone to fulfill every function and responsibility within the Father’s family, there comes a time when you should be able to make the transition from a novice to a mature steward in order to adequately fulfill your functions and responsibilities within the family.
The goal of each student of truth should be to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Father and our Savior in order to more effectively carry out their particular functions and responsibilities within the family. This type of growth is only possible through yielding to the Father’s will for one’s life and through diligent prayerful study and meditation on his laws, precepts, and principles, as well as the fulfilling of one’s current functions and responsibilities in his earthly family to the best of one’s ability.
FAITH, WORKS, AND STEWARDSHIP
The scriptures clearly reveal that there are two kinds of faith: faith that is belief and faith that is power. Both types of faith have a positive result within a person’s life and within the Father’s family to the furtherance of his purpose for his family and the work he has given it to
In order to successfully exercise faith that is true belief, there are two actions that must be taken:
You must truly believe in the promises of God the Father and Jesus
You must exercise this belief by doing what you know to be the Father’s will in your life.
Although the Father and Christ are extremely concerned about our well-being and have great pleasure in fulfilling their promise to help us in our efforts toward spiritual maturity and perfection, they expect us to exercise faith and works as a part of our stewardship functions and responsibilities within the family.
The apostle James was inspired to record the following about the subject of faith and works:
“Dear brothers, what’s the use of saying that you have faith and are Christians if you aren’t proving it by helping others? Will that kind of faith save anyone? if you have a friend who is in need of food and clothing, and you say to him, “Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat hearty,” and then don’t give him clothes or food, what good does that do? So you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith. You must also do good to prove that you have it. Faith that doesn’t show itself by good works is no faith at all—it is dead and useless” (Jms.2:14-17 LBP). Please read and study the entire second chapter of James.
You will be judged by what you do, as well as what you believe. It is very important to understand what James is saying about works. James says it takes physical effort as well as the correct attitude to fulfill God’s laws, precepts, and principles in your life.
It is not enough just to have faith that is belief, because belief without works is no belief at all; it is dead and useless. However, you should not try to prove your faith by doing works; true faith produces good works itself, because it is the fruit of God’s spirit being manifested in your life.
True faith that is belief and righteous works come from an internal desire to do what is right and good, not from a desire to prove something to another person. True faith and good works are the natural result of yielding to the influence of the holy spirit, being a dedicated and responsible student of the Father’s truth and way of truth, and being a good steward of the functions and responsibilities that he has assigned you as a member of his earthly family.
A Doer of the Word
Stewardship has to do with being proactive in administering your personal skills, talents, gifts of the spirit and your functions and responsibilities within the Father’s earthly family. This is why the apostle James emphasized the need for faith together with works:
“But you be doers of the word, not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone hears the word, and does not do it, he is like to a man looking at his face in a mirror. Because he looks at himself and departs, and right away forgets what kind of man he was. But whoever looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues in it, he is not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed because of his work” (Jms.1:22-25 Para.).
This analogy pictures the following two categories of the elect:
The person who truly understands their calling and what is required of them but does nothing about it soon forgets their awesome opportunity and responsibility as member of the Father’s family of king-priests.
The person who truly understands their awesome calling and what is required of them and does what they know they should be doing in order to be blessed for their effort.
Your attitude toward your calling determines which of these two categories you are in. In James’ analogy, self-deception seems to be the result of truly understanding the Father’s will for one’s life, but believing that it is not necessary to practice his will.
In order to avoid being self-deceived, you must truly know the Father’s will and diligently practice what you know to be his will for your
It is important to understand that James sets this instructional analogy within the context of an active pursuit of a righteous lifestyle and the various attitudes, behaviors, trials, temptations, problems, and situations that commonly occur as you work out your salvation.
While speaking to those at Rome about the law (in the context of all that is set forth as a way of life for those who truly believe and follow the teachings of the Sovereign God), the apostle Paul states a principle that will help you bring the Father’s vision and goal for your life and salvation into focus:
“For not the hearers ofthe law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified” (Rom.2:13 KJV).
Many people hear the law (i.e., the truth and the way of truth), but just hearing does not translate into a positive result in a person’s life. Paul explains that a person is justified (made righteous) by what one does, as well as what one believes. It is the application of truth that brings a positive result in one’s life.
Learning the Father’s truth, his way of truth, and his rules of conduct for his earthly family is meaningless unless what is learned is put into practice in such a way that it furthers the Sovereign Father’s purpose for one’s calling and one’s existence as a member of his family.
The failure of the majority of the Father’s children to diligently apply his truth, his way of truth, and his rules of conduct for his earthly family as a function of their stewardship is a root cause of the doctrinal chaos and the lack of unity within his family during this age.
Rules of Conduct
Once the rules of conduct that govern the Father’s earthly family are taught, learned, and diligently practiced, internal problems within the family can be easily managed. Teaching, learning, and diligently practicing these rules of conduct enable a congregation to do the following:
Expose an errant member’s attitudes and behaviors regardless of their function or responsibility within the family. See Gal.2:
- 21; 2.Tim.3:1-9; 2.Thes.3:6-12; Titus 3:9-11; 2.Jn.6-11.
Provide quick and just resolution to attitudinal and behavioral problems. See Matt.8:15-17; 1.Cor.5:11-13; Rom.16:17; 1.Tim.
Maintain peace and harmony within the family. See Matt.5: 21-24; Acts 15:1-41; Rom.12:9-10, 14:27-21; Eph.4:1-3; Col.3:
- 15; 1.Jn.5:14-17.
UNITY OF PURPOSE
It is clear that the Father’s holy nation and family of king-priests on earth was originally conceived and established to function as a team to accomplish its task. Those called to be students and stewards within his holy nation and family are intended to be loving and caring individuals who, while proclaiming his good news message, are to exhibit the holy lifestyle taught to them as an example to the world.
During this age, there is no central authority on earth governing the Sovereign Father’s family scattered throughout the nations, and there is no central authority clearly and concisely teaching the Father’s truth and way of truth to his scattered children. However, his family and nation does exist.
The task given to his family to proclaim his message and educate his newly adopted children has not changed. The requirements for living a righteous lifestyle and being a willing, dedicated, responsible, and teachable student of truth and the way of truth has not changed. Moreover, the requirement to be a faithful and profitable steward of the functions and responsibilities with which one is entrusted has not changed. So what has changed?
The only thing that has changed is the perception of what it means to be a dedicated, diligent, teachable student of truth and a profitable steward in the Father’s earthly family of king-priests.
Paul explained to the Corinthians that all members of the Father’s earthly family have an important function and responsibility within the family and are vital to its success.
Distribution of Power and a Unified Body
“Now God gives many kinds of special abilities, but it is the same holy spirit which is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service to God, but it is the same Lord we are serving. There are many ways in which God works in our lives, but it is the same God who does the work in and through all of us who are his. The spirit displays God’s power through each of us as a means of helping the entire church” (1.Cor.12:4-7 LPB).
Paul says that different authorizations, gifts, and powers are given for the benefit of the entire family:
“For to one is given by the spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same spirit; To anotherfaith by the same spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of languages; To another the interpretation of languages” (1.Cor.12:8-10 KJV).
There are two very important things to learn about spiritual authorizations and powers from these three verses:
- Not everyone is given the same authorization or power.
It is one spirit through which these authorizations and powers flow.
Distribution of Power
The distribution of spiritual gifts within the family is for the purpose of unifying the body into a single powerful and effective force in order to accomplish the Father’s goals for its existence:
“But the one and same spirit works all these things, distributing separately to each as he wills. For as the body is one, and has many members, But all the members of the one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For also we all were baptized by one spirit into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, even all were given to drink into one spirit” (1.Cor.12:11-13 Para.).
What seems to escape many of the Father’s children during this age is that the Father’s family is a single entity within which each individual member has stewardship over important functions and responsibilities that must be performed for the benefit of the entire family and its collective work.
A Unified Body
“For the body is not one member, but many. if the foot says, because I am not the hand, I am not a part of the body. is this true? And if the ear says, because I am not the eye, I am not a part of the body. Is this true? If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If the whole were an ear, How could it smell? But God has set each and every member in the body as it has pleased him” (1.Cor.12: 14-18 Para.).
If the body was only one part, how could it be a body? But, the body is made up of many differing parts, yet, it is one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, I do not need you, nor the head to the feet, I do not need you.” (1.Cor.12:19-21 Para.).
If each member of the Father’s family is necessary for it to function properly and perform its collective responsibility, why is it not functioning as a unified entity during this age?
The answer to this question is simple. The family as a whole is dysfunctional in this age, because few of its members know and understand what it means to be a student of the truth and the way of truth and a steward of their individual and collective functions and responsibilities. Moreover, most of those who do know and understand these things are not practicing them or fulfilling their personal and collective functions and responsibilities in a diligent and expeditious manner. See Revelation, chapters 2 and 3—“he that has an ear, let him hear what the spirit says to the called ones.”
Paul completes his reprimand and instruction to the Corinthians with the following facts and an appeal for them to put aside their pettiness concerning who has the greater gift, who holds the greater position of honor, and who is the more important member of the family:
“The parts of the body, which seem to be weak and less important and are extremely necessary. And those parts ofthe body, which we feel less worthwhile we pay more attention; therefore, these parts become more important in relation to the other parts of the body. Moreover, the other parts need less attention. Therefore, God has assembled the body, so that the seeming less important parts will receive greater attention in order to eliminate division in the body and so that each member receives the same care. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or one member receives honor, all the members rejoice with that member. Now you are the body of Christ as individual members” (1.Cor.12:22-27 Para.).
For a great work to be accomplished during this age, individuals who are dedicated, responsible, and teachable students and stewards of the truth and way of truth who have unity of thought and purpose must come together. The apostle Paul gave this advice to the church regarding unity of purpose and spirit:
“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited” (Rom.12:16 NIV).
“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1.Cor.1:10 KJV). See also Eph.4:1-13; 1.Pet.4:1-2.
Although Paul spoke to the Corinthians specifically concerning the stewardship of the ministry, his instruction clearly applies to all members in the Father’s family, because all have stewardship over their particular functions and responsibilities within his family.
“Let a man so account of us, as of the servants of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (1.Cor.4:1-2 KJV).
JUDGEMENT AND REWARDS
The Father promises immortal life to all who live a righteous lifestyle during this age; however, the authority, the office, and the glory that you will receive in the Father’s heavenly family and kingdom are predicated on how you carry out your stewardship of the skills, talents, gifts of the spirit, and functions and responsibilities with which you are entrusted. See Dan.12:3; Matt.25:14-30; 2.Cor.9:6-10.
Because judgement and rewards are predicated on what you do with the skills, talents, gifts of the spirit, and the functions and responsibilities with which you are entrusted. It is extremely important for you to seek to know what these are, and then diligently use them to the best of your ability for the benefit of the Father, his family, and your spiritual growth.
The following scriptures reinforce the fact that each person who has been made a part of the Father’s holy nation and royal family on earth is required to do works:
“For we all must appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what we did, whether good or bad” (2.Cor.5:10 Para.).
Make no mistake. There will be a judgement of the Father’s elect and all of humanity.
For the faithful elect, this judgement will be at the first resurrection because of a life filled with learning the Father’s truth and way of truth, practicing this truth, and being a profitable trustworthy steward in his
family. See Matt.25:32-40.
For the rebellious, unprofitable steward within the Father’s family, there will be the resurrection to death from which there is no return because of a life filled with evil works or a life of no works at all as noted in Matthew 25:14-30. See also Matt.25:41-46; Lk.19:12-27.
Because Jesus is head of the church and the administrator of the Father’s kingdom, he will judge the quality of each person’s works for the Father:
“But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you despise your brother? For all shall stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it has been written, I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to me, and every tongue confess to God. So then each one of us will give account concerning himself to God” (Rom.14:10-12 KJV Para.).
See also 2.Cor.5:10.
Each of the Father’s children must give an account of their life and the works that they have or have not done.
For those who have been given the opportunity to participate in the first resurrection, the rewards that can be received for diligent service to the Father and Jesus Christ are awesome and far above any offered to those who come after them. See 1.Cor.2:9; Jms.2:5; Heb.11:35.
The apostles John and Paul recorded the following concerning attitudes, behaviors, and rewards for spiritual work during this age of salvation:
“And he said to me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (Rev.22:10-12 KJV). See also Rom.2:7; Matt.19:16-17; Lk.10:25-27; 18:18-20.
“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be you steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, _ forasmuch as you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1.Cor.15:52-58 KJV). See also Heb.6:10.
A Student and Steward of Truth
Being a student and steward of the Father’s truth and way of truth is not an optional commitment within the Father’s earthly family and holy nation; being a student and steward is mandatory.
When you become a part of the Father’s earthly family, you automatically become a student and steward of truth and are to participate in a lifelong process of learning, practicing, and perfecting the concepts and principles of this truth under the tutelage of Christ and through the teaching and guidance of the holy spirit dwelling within you.
Moreover, as you begin to mature spiritually, you must begin to assume the functions and responsibilities that you have been called to perform as a member of the Father’s family. It is at this point that the educational process and the practice of being a profitable steward within the Father’s family has mostly broken down during this age of the church.
Since the demise of the early church, the teachings of Christ and the apostles concerning stewardship have been watered down and have given way to many of the teachings of counterfeit Christianity. Because of this, most of the spiritual leaders among the elect have assumed many of the functions and responsibilities that clearly belong to each individual member of the Father’s family. The removal of these functions and responsibilities from their rightful owners has robbed many family members not only of opportunities to grow spiritually but also of potential opportunities to serve the Father, their fellow king-priests, and of the potential rewards for this service.
For most of the Father’s family, the lack of understanding true discipleship and the lack of performance of true stewardship has existed for many centuries. Although the solution to this problem is simple, few are willing to implement it for various reasons that are in opposition to the letter and spirit of the Father’s truth and way of truth. The reality is that the solution will not be implemented throughout the Father’s entire family; however, it can be implemented and exercised on a personal level in the minds, hearts, and actions of those who truly understand their responsibility to be a willing and dedicated student and steward of the Father’s truth and way of truth.
Because your performance as a steward within the Father’s family will determine your eternal destiny, it is important to again state the following:
The basic function of a steward is to care for another person’s affairs or possessions with which the steward is entrusted.
Under the stewardship of Christ, the Father has entrusted his children with stewardship over his truth and way of truth, which they are to learn and practice to the best of their ability while administering their individual skills, talents, gifts of the spirit, and functions and responsibilities within his family as king-priests. See 1.Pet.4:1-11.
A steward within the Father’s family is a student of the Father’s truth, his way of truth, and his rules of conduct for his earthly family and is responsible for practicing and perfecting what is being learned. See Eph.4:11-16.
Functions and Responsibilities
There are clearly functions and responsibilities of stewardship that belong to those in official positions of service within the Father’s family, such as the ministry, teachers, prophets, and individuals assigned to assist widows. However, these individuals are not the only ones within the Father’s family who are obligated to be stewards. Stewardship is a function and a responsibility assigned to each member of the Father’s family. This is noted in many of Christ’s parables and the teachings of the apostles.
The question is not whether or not all members in the Father’s family of earthly king-priest are stewards, because all members are stewards. The question is what are the specific functions and responsibilities of a steward within the Father’s family? In order to answer this question a person must diligently search and study the scriptures to know and understand these functions and responsibilities and their application within the family.
Clearly, in order to perform certain stewardship functions and responsibilities, a person must be an active participant in a local congregation of the elect. However, the performance of many functions and responsibilities of stewardship within the Father’s family do not require being a member of a local congregation.
The following is a short list of some of the many stewardship functions and responsibilities that apply to each member within the Father’s earthly family of king-priests:
Administration of your natural skills, talents, and spiritual gifts (Eph.4:1-16; 1.Cor.14:12)
Function as an active team member within the Father’s family
Love for each family member (Rom.12:9-10; 1.Pet.1:22, 4:7-8; 1.Jn.4:21)
Understand your opportunity of salvation (2.Cor.5:9-10; Phil.2:
Being a righteous example to the ungodly (Matt.5:14-16; Eph.5:
Being responsible for your discipleship (2.Tim.2:15; Titus 3:14; Rom.14:11-12)
Being responsible for your spirit and spiritual growth (2.Tim. 2:15; 1.Pet.3:18)
Working out your salvation (Phil.2:12; 1.Thes.5:21) Taking responsibility for the conduct and teaching of your children (1.Tim.3:4,12; Prov.22:6) Serving family members (Gal.5:13-14) Practicing God’s law (1.Jn.2:4; 3:24, 5:3)
Preserving knowledge and understanding of the truth (Heb.4:14, 10:23; Rev.2:25, 3:3)
Submitting to authority (1.Pet.3:1; Heb.13:17; Titus 3:1) Sharing and be hospitable (Rom.12:13; 1.Pet.4:9) Visiting the sick and remaining pure (Jms.1:27)
It is obvious from the many problems within the various congregations of the Father’s family that few see the benefit or the urgency in handling ministerial, interpersonal, or collective problems in accordance with the Judicial system set forth by Christ and the apostles. However, problem resolution is an important function and responsibility of each member of the Father’s family.
The cure for problems within the Father’s family is amazingly simple—the cure is adhering to the Father’s rules of conduct for his family members. However, few are willing to implement the cure because of peer pressure, a misguided sense of loyalty or duty, or the fear of loss of friends, fellowship, or position in the church. All of these are the wrong reasons for not carrying out one’s stewardship concerning problem solving within the Father’s family.
Rebuke, conflict resolution, or punishment of an errant Family member are mostly unpleasant experiences; nonetheless, these are functions and responsibilities of each steward in the Father’s family. When problem resolution is administered correctly, it yields the fruit of righteousness.
Priestly Functions Within the Father’s Family
Helping resolve personal problems (Gal.6:1-2)
Interceding to the Father on behalf of all family members (Eph.6:18; Jms.5:16)
Interceding to the Father on behalf of an errant family member (1.Jn.5:14-17; Jms.5:16)
Reprimanding and forgiving (Lk.17:3-4)
Practicing the sacrifice of ministerial support (Phil.4:16-18)
Practicing the sacrifice of praise (Heb.13:15-16)
Serving and sacrificing (Rom.12:1-2)
DUE DILIGENCE AS A STEWARD
Your basic responsibility as a steward is to manage everything that the Father has given into your care, whether physical possessions, skills, talents, and gifts of the spirit, or a position of service within his family.
Each steward is required to use what they have been given in order to increase their personal worth to the Father and accomplish something of value for him to claim as his own when they give an account of their life’s work. See Matt.25:14-30; 2.Cor.5:10.
A person who is serious about their salvation will make an effort to become educated in the various aspects of stewardship within the Father’s family, and then actively perform the functions and responsibilities that apply to them to the best of their ability.
Although discipleship and stewardship are different in execution, one is dependent on the other because neither can fulfill the purpose for which it was designed without the other. Moreover, both discipleship and stewardship must be performed simultaneously in order for one to be a viable and productive member of the Father’s family.
Discipleship is learning the Father’s truth and way of truth and stewardship is practicing what one has learned. Discipleship and stewardship within the Father’s family is to be a cooperative effort, not a competition to see who can obtain the highest position of honor and prominence within the family. Discipleship and stewardship should be performed to help build the family into a more spiritually mature entity in order to perform the work for which it was established.
The importance of discipleship and stewardship goes to the very core of one’s relationship with God the Father, his son our Savior, one’s brothers and sisters in the faith, and the work of the church. Clearly, if you are serious about your eternal destiny, you should pay careful attention to the many instructions concerning your discipleship and stewardship within the Father’s family.
The writer to the Hebrews said the following about the awesome opportunity offered to those called to salvation during this age:
“But to which ofthe angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? Therefore, we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by them that heard him [i.e., Christ]…” (Heb.1:13-14; 2:1-3 KJV).”
The Decision Is Yours
The decision of whether or not to become a willing, dedicated, responsible, and teachable student of truth and a faithful steward of the skills, talents, gifts of the spirit, and functions and responsibilities with which you have been entrusted belongs to you alone.
You must decide what to do with the awesome opportunity to become an immortal spirit-being within the Father’s family and kingdom, because our heavenly Father and Jesus Christ will not decide for you. Each individual can either quit, stand still, or go forward in their relationship with the Sovereign Father and their Savior. This decision is ours alone. Whether we succeed or fail is entirely our responsibility. Our eternal destiny is totally in our control. Regarding each individual’s responsibility to choose, the Creator God told ancient Israel:
“See, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command you this day to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that you may live and multiply: and the Lord your God shall bless you in the land where you go to possess” (Deut.30:15-16).
The Creator God gave ancient Israel a choice between life or death, just as the Sovereign Father is giving the same choice to those he calls to salvation during this age. This is why Paul said the following to the elect at Philippi:
“Wherefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which works in you both to will and to do his good pleasure” (Phil.2:12-13 KJV). See also 1.Cor.10:13; Gal.6:3-10.
The instruction to “work out your own salvation” means that you must manage your life in such a way that it conforms to God’s laws, precepts, and principles. To do this, you must expend a sincere and diligent effort to learn the Father’s truth and way of truth and diligently practice it within your life. Only when you sincerely seek to learn, understand, and live according to the Father’s laws, precepts, and principles and respect, love, obey, and please him can he work his will and purpose in your life.
Whether or not you are fortunate enough to have fellowship with other members of the Father’s family, it is your responsibility to contribute to the success of his earthly family of king-priests through being educated in his truth and way of truth and being the best steward within his family that you can.
The Father and his son, our Savior, have committed themselves and their tremendous resources to helping us succeed and obtain the goal of salvation. In order to succeed, all one has to do is put forth an honest effort. See Matt.6:25-34; Heb.13:5-6; Jn.14:12-14; Rom.14:11-12; Phil. 2:12.
Because God the Father and Jesus Christ want us to succeed, they have given us a manual for success—the Bible. All we have to do is study that manual, take to heart what is recorded in it, and diligently apply what is learned in our life. If we do this, success is guaranteed.
By B. L. Cocherell b8w17