A Christian must surrender to the lordship of Christ – part 4

Surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus requires spiritual nutrition

The first component necessary for surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus Christ is spiritual nutrition.  There are several verses that acknowledge this component as a life-giving source for the Christian.  Acts 2:42 states, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”  The book of Acts takes us to a time in history when the church is exploding.  Individuals were beginning to understand that Jesus is the redemption for our sins.  Jews were converting from their belief system and following the teachings of Jesus.  Gentiles were also joining this movement.  The early part of Acts 2 informs us that thousands of people were deciding to follow Jesus.  The very first thing the apostles did for the many converts was teaching.  The new converts soaked it up.  They were hungry to know more about this new life they were committing.

Church leaders have the responsibility to act as the apostles and “devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.” (Acts 6).  The purpose of any pastor’s teaching must be for an individual to learn Scripture.  Andy Stanley, in “Communicating for a Change”, challenges pastors to teach people the Bible instead of teaching the Bible to people.[1]  The difference in this focus is that pastors offer their congregations teaching that provides nutrition and strength, rather than filling the congregation with information that is not remembered or applied on Wednesday morning.  Scripture must be the foundation of all teaching that happens within a church context.  Churches often confuse this value with a book or other piece of curriculum.  Church leaders must teach Scripture in order to provide spiritual nutrition for congregations.

A church has a purpose for teaching Scripture, but an individual also has a responsibility to learn Scripture.  Dr. Michael Mitchell claims that teaching is for the purpose of life-long learning.[2]  2 Timothy 3:16 states, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. The casual church attendee rarely seeks the proper nutrition to receive the Scriptures in this manner.  Each Christ-follower needs to be an individual that learns Scripture because of its corrective usefulness.  Joshua modeled this practice from the beginning of his leadership in Israel.  Joshua 1:7-8 reads, “Be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is in it.”  Bible teachers often use this passage to instruct people to be strong and courageous and to take a stand for what one knows to be true.  Teachers may have missed the key theme of this verse when only ‘be strong and courageous’ is taught.  A very important instruction seems to be meditating on the Book of the Law day and night so we can do everything we were commanded to do.  As we are careful to do those things, we can be strong and courageous.  The Old Testament is full of passages that show surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus Christ involves spiritual nutrition.

Jesus, among others in the New Testament, taught these very same concepts.  Jesus also modeled spiritual nutrition for his disciples.  We read in the gospels that Jesus often went to be alone to refresh himself spiritually.  We find Jesus teaching about spiritual nutrition in John 12:44-46, “And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”  Surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus Christ requires spiritual nutrition.  Spiritual nutrition produces authentic transformation.  The word “believe” in verse forty-four describes an “intellectual faith”.  Every person who claims to follow Jesus has experienced and should continue to experience “intellectual faith”.  An intellectual faith is the point in which an individual decides the claims and teaching of Jesus are true and worth pursuing.  An intellectual faith is also a decision to learn more about who Jesus is and how to follow his commands.  Matthew 5 describes this as “hungering and thirsting for righteousness.”  George Barna, in “Growing True Disciples”, describes the person who surrenders to the Lordship of Jesus as one “who wants to become an imitator of Christ in every thought, word, and deed.”[3]

Barna goes on to suggest surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus requires teaching, experiences, relationships, and accountability.[4]  Dr. Mitchell would agree, as he suggests learning comes in a variety of forms. Rick Blackwood, the pastor of Christ Fellowship Church in Miami, would also agree that learning comes in various forms.  Dr. Blackwood’s book, “The Power of Multi-Sensory Preaching and Teaching” journals the research he conducted with this congregation on learning forms.  Three big categories that were discovered for his church were attention, comprehension and retention.  He suggested that his staff aim at connecting with the multiple senses of hearing, seeing and touch.[5]  As the results are revealed toward the end of the book, Blackwood had a clear picture of how his congregation learned in various forms.

The ministry of Paul would also agree with Barna’s claims. Philippians 4:9 states, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.” This verse is an example that spiritual nutrition produces authentic transformation.  A human being grows because he receives the proper amounts of nutrition; the same is true for a spiritual being.  Paul has taught and modeled; others have learned.  Paul challenged the church in Philippi to be people whose head is not a spiritual encyclopedia, but to practice what has been taught.  Many people would agree that effective learning comes while practicing the concepts learned.

When individuals fill themselves with spiritual nutrition that is practiced, authentic transformation happens naturally.  However, in our best moments as surrendered Christ-followers, we are far from perfect.  We cannot remain in authentic transformation without the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the assistance of the body of Christ.

[1] Stanley, Andy. Communicating for a Change, page 94.

[2] Mitchel, Dr. Michael R. Leading, teaching, and making disciples., 135.

[3] Barna, George. Growing True Disciples., page 17-18.

[4] Barna, George. Growing True Disciples., page 18.

[5] Blackwood, Rick. The Power of Multisensory Preaching and Teaching: increasing attention, comprehension and retention, page 29.