Friday, April 24, 2015

Lesson 4: The Call to Discipleship

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Book of Luke
Lesson 4: The Call to Discipleship


The brothers Peter and Andrew with their partners James and John had spent the night fishing with dragnets. Nighttime was the best time for fishing on Galilee, but their back-breaking work had yielded nothing for their efforts. So at dawn they beached their boats and mended the nets.

The prelude to all discipleship is Jesus' loving call to the sinner. Such drawing love leads to genuine repentance. Separated from Jesus through their night's toil, the disciples' hearts had become hardened in unbelief. Consequently there was nothing to show for their hard labors. But when their labors were united with Christ's presence it was His word that gathered the fish from the sea.

Up to this point the disciples had not left their occupations in service for the Master. Jesus gave them the prophetic call: "And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men" (Luke 5:10). Though Peter and the others had no former academic qualifications for evangelistic service, the mere fact that Christ chose them was all that they needed. Just as the word of Jesus had gathered the fishes so He "could also impress human hearts, and draw them by the cords of His love, so that His servants might become 'fishers of men.'" [1] Here was the Lord of fish and fishermen, the Lord of nature, the Lord of men and of their daily work. All their desires had come true.

The crowds began to assemble about Jesus. After He stepped into Peter's boat they pulled away from the shoreline so that the pressing crowd might better "hear the word of God" (Luke 5:1). He spoke the "word of eternal life." He spoke "peace to human hearts." "The very words ... would come to them as a message of hope in trial, of comfort in sorrow, and heavenly light in darkness." [2]

Jesus was a carpenter from up the hill in Nazareth. Peter and company were the expert fishermen who knew when and where to go to find the fish. So when Jesus bid them to launch out deeper and let down the nets, there was an initial reticence because of the previous night's experience. They had returned empty-handed.

But "love for their Master moved the disciples to obey" His command, "Let down your nets" (Luke 5:4). Imagine Peter and Andrew's amazement when they hauled up the nets filled with so many fish they called for James and John to help with their boat. Both boats were filled to overflowing and about to "sink."

Peter felt himself in the presence of nature's Creator. The Holy Spirit pressed home to his heart, love of Jesus manifested in the miracle. "The presence of divinity revealed his own unholiness. Love for his Master, shame for his own unbelief, gratitude for the condescension of Christ, above all, the sense of his uncleanness in the presence of infinite purity, overwhelmed him." [3]

Peter had an intense moment such as is described by the apostle Paul: "I say, through the grace given unto me, to every one that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think" (Rom. 12:3). You and I are not excused from listening.

But Jesus through Paul doesn't stop halfway through that sentence. He continues: while I am to think of myself in a humble way, I am also to "think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every one [including me!] a measure of faith." No matter how much I have sinned, how unworthy I am, God has given me an appropriate personal gift of faith. He respects and honors my personality (Psalm 139:5-18). He has already died my second death (Heb. 2:9). He has elected me to eternal salvation (Eph. 1:4-6), not willing that I should perish (1 Tim. 2:4). Christ is already my "Savior, ... especially" if I "believe" (1 Tim. 4:10; John 4:42). Therefore I am invited to the great banquet of "the marriage supper of the Lamb," there is a place card with my name on it--all by virtue of Christ's sacrifice on His cross when He went to hell to find me.

Does this mean that I shall continue living in sin, rebellion, and transgression of God's holy law? If the love (agape) of Christ constrains and motivates me, I can't live for self (2 Cor. 5:14, 15), for the Holy Spirit is stronger than my own sinful nature that I was born with (Gal. 5:16, 17), and the much more abounding grace of Christ is stronger than the world's abounding sin (Rom. 5:20).


We all know that a "disciple" is someone who follows a teacher. Therefore the ultimate lesson in "discipleship" is the one that the "144,000" teach us: these are they who "stand on the mount Zion, ... having the Father's name written in their foreheads, ... and which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth" (Rev. 14:1, 4). "Mt. Zion" is the church, the same as the "remnant church" of 12:17. For "the Lamb " to "stand on Mt. Zion" therefore is Christ and His people to be fully reconciled; the sacrifice of Christ will at last be fully vindicated in these people.

The 1888 message is about Christ's ministry in the Most Holy Apartment of the heavenly sanctuary. He ministers to His last-days' people the "atonement" in this final time of the High Priestly ministry; every buried root of enmity against God or alienation from Him (see Rom. 8:7) will have been cleansed from their hearts; His people are at last "at one" with Him. This is the meaning of the prophecy of Daniel 8:14, "Then shall the sanctuary be cleansed."

A. T. Jones was clear that the sanctuary in heaven cannot be "cleansed" until first of all the hearts of His people on earth are "cleansed." Thus the story of the 144,000 is the story of final victory over sin--a victory accomplished only by faith, not by works.

And here is where the message of Christ's righteousness comes into sharp focus: sanctification is accomplished in the hearts of believers by the ministry of truth. "Sanctify them [Thy people] through Thy truth: Thy word is truth," Jesus Himself prayed (John 17:17). This is what the 144,000 have heartily submitted to.

Thus the 1888 message clarifies the investigative judgment truth. The slightest hint from the Holy Spirit that something in the life is in opposition to that "truth of God," then the believer will gladly give it up. Like a healthy heart beating and pumping blood throughout the healthy body, so the Holy Spirit is working throughout the remnant church; God's people waste no time or energy fighting the leading of the Holy Spirit. There is none of that negative "1888 spirit" that constantly opposes the leading of the Holy Spirit.

The 144,000 come to the place where it can be honestly said of them, "These are they who follow the Lamb [the crucified Christ} whithersoever He goeth." Will it be this generation who open their hearts to this leading of the Holy Spirit?

--Paul E. Penno

[1] Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 249.
[2] Ibid., p. 245.
[3] Ibid., p. 246.

Note: "Sabbath School Today" and Pastor Paul Penno's video of this lesson are on the Internet at: