“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
In these words of Jesus, found in MAT 11:28-29, there are two distinct calls. The first, in verse 28, is a call to salvation. In answering this call, the sinner lays down the burden of sin and guilt, and receives the gift of rest in his soul.
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (ROM 5:1). The gift of salvation, which Jesus died to secure, cannot be earned; it can only be received by faith. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (ROM 6:23).
The second invitation, found in MAT 11:29, is directed to those who have responded to the first. It is a call to discipleship. The “yoke” of Christ is preparation for service. The new believer must “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2PE 3:18). This requires diligent study, for we are learning not just to know, but to do His will. “Study [be diligent] to present yourself approved to God, a workman who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2TI 2:15).
It is significant that the word “learn” in verse MAT 11:29 is mathete from the root word for “disciple.” All who believe in Jesus Christ for salvation should become disciples. However, experience and observation tell us that relatively few answer this second call. There is a sense of urgency in using the aorist imperative. The reason for this is that discipleship means service. And the service in view is the cause of Christ, Who came into the world, “to seek and to save that which was lost” (LUK 19:10). We sense this urgency in the burden of Jesus when He said, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send our laborers into His harvest” (MAT 9:37-38).
This book is written with the prayer that it may give some initial guidance and direction to new believers in their quest to answer the call to discipleship. It may be also that the “Lord of the harvest” will be pleased to use it also to call many who, having answered the call to salvation some time ago, are now challenged to enter into the arena of discipleship. It is never too late to take up the yoke of service!
Armed and Able to Stand
In the sixth chapter of Ephesians (EPH 6:10-13), the Apostle Paul concludes this great letter with the Armor of God. In this section are found eight disciplines, which are the essence of discipleship. The objective of these areas of spiritual mastery is that we might “stand” on the field of battle as good soldiers of Christ Jesus. The “yoke” of service to Christ and the “armor” of the Christian soldier are the same. Like the 318 servants of Abraham who were “born in his [own] house” (GEN 14:14), we are to be “trained” and “armed” for battle. The format of this study will follow these eight disciplines:
1. The Belt of Truth: Personal Bible study How to study the Bible for maximum benefit and growth
2. The Breastplate of Righteousness: The Spirit-filled life How to enter and maintain a life of spiritual power and purpose
3. The Sandals of the Gospel: Christian service
The three areas of individual preparation and service
4. The Shield of Faith: The faith-rest life
What does the Scripture mean “the just shall live by faith”?
5. The Helmet of salvation: Personal security and stability in life
The necessity of keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ
6. The Sword of the Spirit: Fulfilling the great commission
How to evangelize and disciple others
7. The Power of Spiritual Prayer: The believer’s lifeline
How to pray with confidence and effectiveness
8. The Spiritual War: Knowing and meeting the enemy
How to avoid being a casualty in the battle for souls