By Francis Frangipane
“There are two types of Christians, the trained and the untrained,” remarked a pastor I recently met. I couldn’t agree more. The fact is, too many of us view our salvation experience as though it were an arrival – and on one level it certainly is. Yet, our “arrival” is actually the beginning of a journey toward Christlikeness. Being “born again” is a step out of darkness into a destiny that will involve perseverance, faith and spiritual training.
So let us accept the fact that the Lord’s goal is not just our rescue, but also our training. To be spiritually trained will cost us. We must make life choices, spend time in spiritual development, and give ourselves in unfolding surrender to learning the glorious ways of God. The result is our transformation. As Jesus put it:
“A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40).
In all of life, there is nothing that exceeds my desire to be “fully trained.” In every way I desire to be “like [my] teacher,” the Lord Jesus Christ.
Many Approaches To Training
Spiritual training can come in a variety of ways, but at the basis of all progress is a heart that is serious about transformation. At this very moment, you can begin accelerated training simply by picking up your Bible and asking the Holy Spirit to teach you. Remember, Jesus said,
“The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:26).
The Holy Spirit guides us, comforts and empowers us; He is our life companion to “teach [us] all things.” Approach Him as your personal trainer. Open your Bible and ask the Holy Spirit for insight and revelation, for impartation and transformation. Take notes when the Lord shows you truths or explains mysteries, even keeping a pen and pad at your bedside so you can record important dreams or insights the Lord gives in your sleep (Psalm 127:2).
You see, you want to ask the Lord not only to save you, but to train you, to give you discernment and insight. The untrained Christian can walk into a life-setting, yet be completely ignorant of the spiritual dynamics that are influencing him. The spiritual man enters the same setting and he discerns what is happening, he is led by the Holy Spirit and he is effective in all realms.
As it is written,
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14).
Listen well to this statement: “Solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil” (vs 13). Notice the key words: “mature,” “practice,” “trained to discern.” The immature, like infants, cannot function effectively; the mature, through practice, actually possess “the mind of Christ” and appraise all things (1 Corinthians 2:15-16). They function successfully and courageously in every dimension of life, because they have been trained.
Training From Mature Ministries
For all we will gain in our personal training from the Holy Spirit, the Lord also raises up ministries to train and equip us. God has created us to be interdependent with one another. I have learned that there are some things God will not teach directly to me, but will instead require that I learn certain truths from others. It’s significant that an angel told Cornelius to contact Peter and have him explain the truths about Jesus Christ. Why didn’t the angel speak directly to Cornelius? It was important that Cornelius learn about God from another man. Humility requires us to appreciate the influence of godly mentors in our lives and learn from them.
Keep in mind that the Lord does not want us blindly submitting to others; rather, He calls us to see Christ revealed in the heart of that leader first. Look for Christ the Shepherd to be manifest in the healing love of your pastor; listen for Christ the prophet to give guidance toward righteousness using the voice and example of the preacher. Whatever the ministry – evangelist, pastor, prophet, teacher or apostle – you must look for, and discern, the person of Christ in that leader. If they offer training, do not be afraid to submit yourselves in faith to their ministry programs.
While your focus is on the Lord, keep in mind the Lord’s admonition: “He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward” (Matthew 10:41).
He who “receives a prophet” or “receives a righteous man” shall also receive their “reward.” To receive someone in “the name of” their spiritual authority is to recognize a particular spiritual calling in an individual; it is to discern that they have something spiritual that you need. It is also to position yourself in an accelerated mode of growth, which comes through impartation. (Impartation is a scriptural, New Testament practice that operates through the Holy Spirit, as this verse in Matthew 10 explains. See also Romans 1:11 and I Thessalonians 2:8).
Of course, the leader whom God temporarily uses to train you never takes the place of Christ; the Lord just uses the individual to equip you in a certain area. So, once you see a leader you appreciate and respect, submit to that leader as unto the Lord, looking to Christ Himself to minister and train you through that man or woman of God. As it is written:
“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12).
Remember that your goal is not to follow men, but to be trained and equipped so you too can function in the “work of service.”
Returning to our text in Matthew 10, Jesus also says to the prophet or righteous man, “And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward” (vs. 42).
In other words, as a leader there are a great many demands made upon one’s life. Yet, Jesus desires we discern among the multitudes those who are truly disciples. He says, in effect, even these who are yet spiritually children (or “little ones), if they come to you “in the name of a disciple” (i.e., wanting to learn), then take time with them. Even if you can only momentarily quench their spiritual thirst (“even a cup of cold water”), Jesus says, you “shall not lose [your] reward.”
In a generation where households may have a dozen bibles, yet not a minute to study, Jesus desires we become serious in our pursuit of spiritual training. Indeed, let’s assure ourselves no matter what our age or background, in the promise of our Master: “Everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
As stated in today’s message, the Lord’s desire is to see you fully embrace spiritual training. Yet, in whatever form your equipping takes, In Christ’s Image Training provides a lasting foundation upon which to build. Christlikeness, sets your focus; Humility, prepares your heart. Prayer, secures God’s provisions and Unity, qualifies you as “unoffendable” in your pursuit of God’s destiny, whether personally for yourself, for your family or beyond.
See www.icitc.org for more information.