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Following Christ’s Example: A Biblical View of Discipleship

MacArthur writes, “We are not commissioned to confront satanic power with miracle power. We are commissioned to confront satanic lies with divine truth.”77 But such a statement seems to ignore the fact that we are not only dealing with “lies” but with liars (Jn. 8:44) when we are dealing with real malignant personalities, and they must be driven out. I have seen numbers of witches, drug addicts, sex addicts and others set free from these evil powers by the commanding name of Jesus. This is the core of kingdom ministry. As quoted above, MacArthur warns, “Indeed, Christians who pursue miraculous signs are setting themselves up for satanic deception.” But, in light of our study, may we not warn that Christians who do not pursue miraculous signs according to the biblical model of ministry are setting themselves up for satanic deception? Are they not in danger of “having a form of godliness but denying its power” (II Tim. 3:5 NKJV)?

In conclusion, Jesus the Messiah, the eternal Son of God, bore the kingdom in his word and work. Like any good first century teacher, he discipled his followers in order to reproduce not only his life of faith and holiness but also his ministry in them. When he ascended into heaven he left behind ones “like himself” (Ben Sirach) who he then filled with himself by his Spirit. They were like him in doctrine, character and ministry. They, in turn, discipled the next generation to be like themselves, as Jesus had done.

The risen Lord, however, is the key to all of this. By his Spirit he pours his life into his Church and continues his ministry through those who obey his command to preach the kingdom, cast out demons and heal the sick. In ages of secularization, rationalism and unbelief, this ministry has grown dim, to be sure. But as God renews his Church, kingdom ministry breaks forth again. So it is in our generation, across the continents, across ethnic groups, across denominations and across theological traditions. So it is more and more intensively as we approach the end of this age.




Further Reading: Preview other books by Don Williams

Start Here: Kingdom Essentials for Christians

12 Steps with Jesus



1 See, for example, John MacArthur, Charismatic Chaos (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), p. 118.

2 Ibid., p. 120.

3 J. Lindblom, Prophecy in Ancient Israel (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg, 1962), p. 160.

4 Similar formulae appear in Egyptian wisdom literature as well. See “The Instruction of King Amen-em-het” (1960 B.C.). “The beginning of the instruction which the majesty of the King…made, when he spoke in a message of truth to his son.” James Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, 2nd, ed., (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1955), p. 418.

5 All Rabbinical citations come from before the fall of Jerusalem (A.D. 70). Unless otherwise noted, they are found in Pirke Aboth. See R. H. Charles (ed.), Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, (Oxford, The Clarendon Press, 1913), Vol. II, p. 686.

6 This observation is not intended to depreciate the importance of written texts, from the Old Testament and the legal, mythological, wisdom, and ritual writings of the Ancient Near East, to Homer and the classical Greek philosophers, etc. It is intended to make a point which we who live in a culture dependent upon the written word often minimize or forget.

7 Roland de Vaux, Ancient Israel, Its Life and Institutions (New York: McGraw, Hill, 1961), p. 49.

8 When the Mishnah was published, its original form was not in writing but in a fixed oral text recited by the Tannaim or “repeaters.” See Saul Lieberman, Hellenism in Jewish Palestine (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1950), p. 88.

9 “Attach” (da—baq), according to Brown, Driver, and Briggs, “starts with the ideal of physical proximity. …” Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (Oxford, The Clarendon Press, 1952), p. 179.

10 Birger Gerhardsson, Memory and Manuscript (Lund: C.W.K. Gleerup, 1961), pp. 182ff

11 Louis Finkelstein, Akiba (New York: Covici Friede Publishers, 1936), p. 181 See B. Berakot 62a; Yer. Berakot 9.8, 14c.

12 Cited in Wolfson, Philo (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1947), Vol II, p. 195.

13 Henri Marrou, A History of Education in Antiquity (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1956), p. 31f.

14 Seneca, Ad Lucilium Epistulae Morales, VI.5-7. Cited by Willis De Boer, The Imitation of Paul (Kampen: J.H. Kok, 1962), p.26.

15 Cited in Martin Hengel, The Charismatic Leader and His Followers (New York: Crossroad, 1981), p. 60, n.87.

16 A.M. Hunter, The Works and Words of Jesus (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1975), p. 76.

17 I am indebted to Francis Schaeffer for this thought in Escape from Reason (Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter Varsity Press, 1968), p. 46.

18 MacArthur, op. cit., p. 139.

19 R.H. Fuller, The Mission and Achievement of Jesus (Chicago: Alec. Allenson, 1954), p. 40; Many New Testament scholars have noted the revelatory nature of both word and deed in the ministry of Jesus, the apostles and the Early Church (See also appendix 1 of this book: “Power Evangelism and the New Testament Evidence”): F. F. Bruce, The Hard Sayings of Jesus (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1983), pp. 96-97; O. Hofius, in C. Brown, ed., NIDNTT, vol. 2, pp. 632-633; K. Tagawa, Miracles et évangile (Études d’histoire et de philosophie religieuses, 62; Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1966), p. 87 (also see pp. 49-73, espec. pp. 53 and 73); A. Richardson, The Miracle-Stories of the Gospels (London: SCM Press, 1941), pp. 17, 35-45; H. van der Loos, The Miracles of Jesus (Supplements to Novum Testamentum, vol. 8. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1965), pp. 220-224, 252, 284-285; C. H. Powell, The Biblical Concept of Power (London: Epworth Press, 1963), p. 131-139; H. Hendrickx, The Miracle Stories of the Synoptic Gospels (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987), p. 25; B. Klappert, NIDNTT, vol. 3, p. 1108; G. Delling, “Botschaft und Wunder im Wirken Jesu,” in H. Ristow and K. Matthiae, eds., Der historische Jesus und der kerygmatische Christus (Berlin: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 1961), p. 393; G. Friedrich, “euaggelizomai,” TDNT, vol. 2, p. 720; W. Grundmann, “dunamis,TDNT, vol. 2, p. 311.

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Category: Living the Faith, Summer 2007

About the Author: Donald M. Williams, Ph.D. (Columbia University), M.Div. (Princeton Seminary), retired in 2002 from the pastorate of Coast Vineyard in La Jolla, California that he planted in 1988. Previous pastoral experience included serving as College Pastor at the Hollywood Presbyterian Church for ten years and Mt. Soledad Presbyterian Church in La Jolla, CA. He has held teaching posts at Claremont MacKenna College and at Fuller Seminary. He is the author of thirteen books, including 12 Steps with Jesus (Regal/Chosen, 2004), Start Here: Kingdom Essentials for Christians (Regal/Chosen, 2006), and The Communicator's Commentary for Psalms 1-72 (Word, 1986) and Psalms 73-150 (Word, 1989).

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