Of Following Jesus
by Bob Mumford
(Edited by me)
To follow Jesus means yielding to the direction and circumstances
into which He may lead us. It is not following a doctrine,
a church, or even following
is an erroneous, erroneous statement that shows a gross misunderstanding
of the relationship of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit with
Scripture. What Christ's disciples had to sever themselves
from, was from their rabbi's, their synagogues, and their
following the doctrines and traditions of the Talmud -- But
never from Scripture. As Paul the Apostle declares "ALL
scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable
for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction
in righteousness" Mumford is dead wrong here as he was
on Christians discipling themselves to him in the late 1970's)
The issue is following Jesus as a Person.
Jesus said, "You must be born again" once in John
3:3, whereas He said, "Follow Me" 84 times! It seems
that being "born again" has been taught as a rather
static experience in which we have somehow "arrived."
Following Jesus is a relationship with Christ in which there
is progressive movement.
"And as He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus
sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him,
Follow me. And he arose and followed Him. And
it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house,
many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus
and his disciples: for there were many, and they
followed Him" Mark 2:14-15.
The tax-gatherers and the sinners were following Him. Even
the many who love Jesus but do not like the church are no
less loved in His sight. We should ask the Lord to show us
what we are doing - or not doing - that keeps these from coming
to truly know Him.
Following Jesus is very personal. "He said to him, Follow
Me! Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved
following them; the one who also had leaned on His breast
at the supper, and said, Lord who is the one who betrays You?
Peter therefore seeing him said to Jesus, Lord and what about
this man? Jesus said to him, If I want him to remain until
I come, what is that to you? You follow Me" John 21:19-22.
This is a very strong instruction, "You follow Me!"
Following Him is movement upward. A static experience renders
one fixed and immobile. John the Baptist preached repentance,
a form of movement, and Israel responded, "We have Abraham
as our father." They were fixed in their experience,
and possessed a false confidence. When we are fixed or unchanging,
we are not following Jesus.
When people are approached about the Person of Jesus, they
often become tender and open. On the other hand, when the
subject is Christianity, they may become quiet, or "get
religious." We must remember that we are not called to
win people to a local church, but to help them to find and
to follow Jesus.
BOUNDARY SET OR CENTER SET?
We relate to people in basically two ways.
The first may be called a "boundary set." If for
example, one Texan meets another, immediately the boundary
of Texas enables them to experience some degree of fellowship.
The second we refer to as a "center set." It means
we are both centered on the same thing. If you are a Republican
and I, a Democrat, we can, nevertheless, both work together
in the United Way because we are centered on one thing. Likewise,
if our center is Jesus, our ability to enjoy other members
of the larger Body of Christ will be expanded and enhanced.
Most of us, however, relate to people on a boundary set.
The Church becomes a boundary set when we set denominational
barriers such as, "are you a Methodist or a Baptist?"
But if my approach is on the basis of "I am a follower
of Jesus," I can experience fellowship with both. Many
damaged and suspicious people will soften when approached
If I ask what you believe, it fosters division; but when
I ask who you believe in, we are on the road toward enjoying
fellowship. One is a boundary set, the other a center set.
If we center on the Person of Christ, we immediately have
some degree of understanding.
THE GOAL OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
The goal of the Christian life is expressed in Romans 8:29.
"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate
conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the
firstborn among many brethren" Rom 8:29.
This speaks about an already established destination. Suppose
we are on a train destined for New York and we think we are
going to Los Angeles. We will arrive in New York regardless.
The goal of the Christian life
is not Heaven. Heaven is not an attainment or a reward, but
the destination for the saved after this life.
(Here Mumford has some fuzzy thinking -- As Paul desired to
be conformed into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ ,
Paul also had a goal to become a partaker of the fellowship
of His sufferings, But Paul feared that there was a possibility
he could after he ran the race become disqualified, that he
could be deceived, he could fall away, he could become a reprobate
-- As a number of disciples that the Apostle John speaks of
that were among the number of the Apostles but became Antichrists
-- and thus reprobates -- If Paul was worried or afraid --
How can we beleiver that we are on some free train ride where
our destination is guaranteed?) Our goal is
to be conformed to the image of God's Son while on this earth.
In order to be conformed to the image of Christ, I must follow
Him and seek to do what He is doing. As we examine the implications
of following Jesus, we will more clearly understand what it
means to be conformed to His image.
THE FOUR FACES OF CHRIST (This
is a commonly taught doctrine and tradition of men. Note nowhere
in the passage quoted below does the passage declare or even
imply these four beasts are Jesus Christ.)
The four Gospels reveal the four faces of Christ. Notice
the order in Revelation 4:5-7.
"And before the throne there was a sea of glass like
crystal (Transparent, nothing hidden) and in the
midst of the Throne, and round about the Throne, were
four beasts full of eyes before and behind (perfect
intelligence). And the first beast was like a lion,
and the second beast like a calf (young ox), and
the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast
was like a flying eagle" Rev 4:6-7.
The order is lion, ox, man, and flying eagle.
(Here is more commonly taught doctrines and traditions of
men that are nowhere stated or implied in the word of God
-- the damage of these kind of off the cuff spiritualizations
and the ascribing of spiritual meanings to numbers, colors,
animate and inanimate objects where there is no clear meaning
given in scripture is that this leads people down a path of
extra-biblical interpretations - that cloud, obscure, and
null Scripture. The sunsource of all of this kind of teaching
is the Talmud -- which John the Baptist, Jesus Christ and
the Apostles hated and sought to destroy.) Matthew
pictures Jesus as the King, the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
Mark presents Him as the Ox or the servant. Luke, a doctor,
presents Jesus as a Man, full of human compassion. The Flying
Eagle is the Gospel of John which portrays the spiritual aspect.
Revelation 4:6 speaks of perfected humanity. The four living
creatures are man as God intended. In the Garden of Eden,
God created man in His own image. Then sin entered, and the
disfigurement of almost everything followed. If we are seriously
seeking to follow Jesus, He will work the "balance"
of His life into ours. (Nowhere
in the Word of God does it declare that Christ is seeking
a balance, or for Him to be a part of the right level of some
mixture in our spiritual life. Balance is always spoken of
as a "rabbinical caveat" to allow and explain away
the sin, mixture, corruption, we seek to co-exist with the
perceived truth in our lives -- Jesus had no tolerance of
the mixing of light and darkness in His disciples)
As we follow, we will experience movement, change, and activity
which will conform us to the image of Jesus Christ.
He is working into us His nature and character as revealed
in these four faces; lion, ox, man, and the eagle. The lion
is the face of boldness. Christ's nature worked into ours
will free us from timidity and cowardice should the Holy Spirit
require that we face those who would oppose Christ.
This, however, has to be paired in Biblical balance with
the face of an ox, the ability and willingness to faithfully
serve. The ox does not need
to "feel a leading of the Holy Spirit" to plow the
-- Where ever is this written of suggested in the word of
God?Can I now claim I am an Ox beleiver and do whatever I
feel in the name of the Lord ??? What does one suppose if
an unguided ox fitted was fitted with a plow? Would the Ox
march back and forth without proper guidance? Would such an
ox plow an entire feild much less feild after feild with percision?
Mumford does not know Oxen, they eat and wander, (As demonstrated
in Samuel) The friend of the Ox plowman in the word of God
is this strange instrument known as an "ox goad"
Oxen freequently stop and must be goaded on to do their task.)
He does it whether he feels like it or not. So often we use
"spiritual" excuses to avoid or ignore the basic
duties of home, family, and Christian living. (And
when we do, we are goaded by the Lord) The
ox is the face of a dutiful servant who "straightway"
(a key word in Mark) sees the task that needs to be done,
and accomplishes it. (See here
what teaching the sand of the doctrine and traditions of men
does both to the teacher and their hearers?)
comes through joining the face of a man and
the face of an eagle. The man speaks of genuine humanity,
the ability to express compassion. It isoften difficult to
give or experience human compassion, for it requires touching
and being touched by the problems of our society.
We balance these three with
the flying eagle, which speaks of spirituality. Rising, as
it were, on the wings of adversity into the face of the storm.
Soaring into heavenly places, looking down from the lofty
heights. How our spirit longs for this kind of relationship
THREE LESSONS APPLIED (*Sigh*--
May God deliver his people from these kinds of empty unscriptural
First, we are to recognize that the four faces of Christ
are designed to be worked into us as we follow Him. That is
the nature of movement change, and being conformed to the
image of Christ.
Second, as we live a balanced Christian life, all truth is
held in tension. This delicate balance between real humanity
and true spirituality keeps us humanly touchable, yet walking
in the spiritual nature of the Kingdom of God.
Third, an observation of our life may reveal the right face
at the wrong time, or the wrong face at the right time. Only
the school of the Holy Spirit can help us to effectively give
service without complaint (ox), yet subsequently move in the
currents of the Holy Spirit (eagle).
However, we must not make an ascent into the heavenlies,
which leaves human pain in the valley below. Some may be impressed
with our spirituality, but unhelped in their human predicament.
Following Jesus requires an effective demonstration of the
balanced life of Christ revealed through our life.
If you will read the four Gospels, you will get the feel
of the Lion, the Servant, the Man, and the Eagle throughout
the rest of the New Testament. Reading each of the books with
understanding will color our thinking. For example, when Jesus
encountered the woman at the well, afterward, she said, "Come
see a man who told me everything." He encountered her
as a man and she affirmed, "You are the Messiah!"
This is not a boundary set, but a center set.
Jesus, we desire to follow You. We recognize that this will
require Your working these four faces within us. Let there
be movement in our lives, the kind that others around us will
be able to recognize. Enable us in such a manner that others
will testify that we indeed are becoming like Jesus, Amen.