Becoming a Disciple of Christ Part 2
Becoming a Disciple of Christ Part 2
Blessed Are Those Who Mourn
Nita LaFond Johnson
New Orleans 2009 Revival Services
There are many seekers of God, but few disciples. Even in the days of our Lord, there was a plethora of seekers; everywhere He went there were throngs of people seeking Him, but He did not encounter many disciples, and the reason for this is the price that one must pay to be a disciple of Christ. Seekers can walk very casually with the Lord and really be satisfied with very little. Disciples on the other hand, have a passion and a hunger to know the truth about God and experience the depths of Him; they want to know what Jesus is all about: why He is the way He is, and why He relates to the Father the way He does, because they want to relate to the Father in the same way. Disciples have hunger and therefore are willing to pay the price that seekers are not willing to pay. This is why the Lord didn’t say, “If you wish to seek Me , pick up your cross and come follow Me.” He said, “If you wish to be a disciple…”
The first prerequisite of being a disciple is that you must become a cross-carrier which automatically means death to self and entrance into life in Christ.
The cross is the dividing line between those who will walk with Christ closely, and those who will not. It determines who will die and who will not. To die means to become nameless and faceless; only then can you see the Lord. Those who will not die retain their identity, and there is no cure for the loss that they will incur. The truth is, there is nothing beautiful about our flesh. A disciple knows that there is no beauty in this decaying mass of flesh and wants to see it dead. Those who are not disciples will ever strive to keep the flesh alive; they want to retain their identity and be seen, known and heard.
In this hour, the Lord is calling forth true disciples; people who will pick up the cross and not put it down until Christ is their home. That is what He is looking for because that is what it will take to bring forth the glorious kingdom that He is in the process of releasing. He is calling His disciples to come to Him, sit at His feet, and to know Him. This is my one quest: forgetting all that is behind I press on toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. My ultimate life’s desire is to become a disciple of Christ and to know Him.
Paul, who proclaimed the Gospel across Asia Minor, had a heart for winning the lost to Christ and a heart to see the Jewish people recognize their Messiah. However, he had an even greater passion which pulled him through many extreme trials. The thing underneath all that drove him was not starting churches, but to truly know Christ in His death and resurrection. Paul was a true disciple. This is not to say he never fought against the cross because every human being who has ever wanted to go deep in God fights against the cross. The flesh does not die willingly, and Paul was no exception in that regard. The difference was, he was not going to be defeated by his flesh; his hunger and passion for Christ was so profound that he could not help but press on through the demands of the flesh, soul, church and world. He pressed on, moving ever forward, searching, seeking, desiring and panting after the true knowledge of Christ. He lived for Christ as Christ lived for the Father. This is what it takes to become a true disciple of Christ; there must be a grand hunger to push away all that is not truth to find Him who is truth.
With each of the beatitudes He says, “Blessed.” Blessed are those who the world says are not blessed; blessed are the mourners and those who have been given the revelation to understand the grief of the soul to find its place in God. Such grace it takes to understand this grief. Few understand or receive the knowledge of how deeply their soul yearns to be filled with God and find its rest in Him. Few understand that this detachment from the Creator is the source of all their problems. It takes grace to understand this and it must come through divine revelation. Otherwise, the soul is ever looking for other means to satisfy the brokenness within. This process only leads to more and more brokenness until it seems that there is no cure or remedy, and indeed in the world and in the Church, there is no cure. The only remedy is Christ. Now, when I say “the Church” of course there is always remedy in Christ but when the Church does things apart from Christ: traditions, song services, communion, Sunday school and all the other things the Church busies itself with, the remedy is not there.
You have to go to the source of life and bypass the busyness; the disciple will bypass all the business of life to go to the true source of life. That is not to say that we do not work, do things in the congregation, or to fill our place in the Church. Neither is it to say we are not to be a mother or father. What I am saying is that there is a source of life that the Church seems to avoid, because to find it, you must pass through the cross and few are willing to go there. Few will allow themselves to be emptied of self; few are willing to see what they are really made of.
What an interesting invitation: to mourn. Some might think Church and Christianity are about being happy and blessed with material things, blessed within the congregation, blessed in your business and in everything that you touch. The thorns of the rose garden are gone now that Christ is here. But the Lord said, “blessed are those who mourn.” What is this dichotomy and why are only disciples called to it? What is it about mourning that affords blessing? He is not talking about mourning as when you lose a loved one. He calls us to mourn, and in our mourning we are blessed with comfort that can only come from His hand. What is this mourning? First of all, it is the mourning over the flesh, this carcass, the earthly body that stands between you and God. We treat it with great respect, do we not? We honor and ennoble it; we do everything we can to beautify it and give it great comfort and security to make sure everyone else honors our flesh the way we want it honored.
We do not mourn over the flesh. Should we feel mourning , we go get our chocolate bars or whatever it is we do to comfort our mourning flesh. Yet Christ is speaking to us as though there is a mourning that is blessed by Him. He is calling us to look at our flesh and realize that it is this body that is keeping us from God. Our desires to comfort and ennoble our flesh and, our desire for the world to appreciate our flesh are all keeping us from God. All the energy – mental, physical and spiritual – that we expend to keep our flesh throbbing with life is what keeps us from the knowledge of God. For a true disciple it brings heartache and mourning because it becomes a hindrance to the higher life.
Paul understood that all those things keep us from knowing Him, which is why he said, “I buffet this body daily.” He refused to demand the comforts and all things that would give his flesh more reason to keep thriving in the lower life. It takes that kind of decision to help bring the flesh to death; it does not get there by accident. Those who have come to the reality that the flesh is not their friend mourn for being bound to it (Rom 7:24); they weep, cry and beg God to crucify it. They themselves do what they can and what they are called to do to crucify what must die for the sake of Christ. As much as I am emphasizing this point, I am barely scratching the surface of what God is saying about this issue. There is One who calls you. He is high, holy and full of glory! He is the Son of God. He calls you to come out of your flesh, come out of your understanding of the lower nature and come into the life and understanding of the higher nature, which is that of the Spirit. He is calling you to rise up out of the things of the world and to seek Him, the eternal life and everlasting seed that was placed inside of you the day you gave your life to Him. He is calling out for that commitment placed inside of you the day you gave your life to Him. He is saying to us, “You gave your life to Me; why did you take it back? I am calling you to do what you said you would do the day you gave your life to me. I want you to give it up and give it back to Me. Let Me bring you into the places that I want you to go. I want you to let Me crucify that which is unholy and has no glory.”
Lord, open up the understanding of our spirit and help us to know that this flesh has no glory, none! And help us to see that the defilement of the lower nature prohibits the release and the emanation of what true glory is within You.
You can only know God by the Spirit, and the more you keep demanding the right to live in the life of the soul and flesh, the more your spirit is bound and prohibited from finding the revelation of its very source of life in Christ. He is calling you to give up that which is corruption so that you might have true glory. The true disciple who understands this exchange mourns over all that hinders the revelation of Jesus Christ. There is mourning so deep it cannot be heard by the human ears, groaning too deep for utterance, which most never hear because they never allow their spirits to become sensitive to it. It takes much separation from the things of the world before you can get in touch with that deep agony of the spirit that is crying out for God.
When the disciple understands that the thing which he has been looking for all of his life is captured in the mourning of his inner man, he comes to a point where the world loses its enticement, and begins to demand that his soul submit to the craving of his spirit. He demands the soul to come in under subjection to the life of his spirit and demands that his flesh be crucified for the sake of Christ. The true disciple will know Him because he wants to divorce himself from the part of his life that does not lead him towards the knowledge of Christ. There is a voice crying out in the wilderness. This voice sounds like a shofar – a very unpleasant sound blowing in an unpleasant wilderness. No one knows where it is coming from, but the disciple hears it and knows he must find the origin of that voice, because that voice is calling him home and he has already learned that nothing in this world can satisfy the agonies of hunger in his soul.
There are men, women and even children around the world who have forsaken all for Christ and have learned the life of the Spirit – walking in places and knowing and understanding the reality of the kingdom in ways like few others. They did not learn the means of advancement or the road to travel from a preacher in the pulpit, but there was a hunger and a passion, something that touched them deeply. This hunger and revelation was placed in their inner man and it cried out, “Come higher! There is a place that you and the Church know not of! The world does not know it. I will take you to that place that you were created to live, and teach you what you were created to know. I will allow you to know the One you were created to know, but you must come higher!”
They heard the call and followed. They did not give excuses because you cannot; the entire time you are giving excuses you are losing ground. They heard the call and they followed. Was it easy? No! That is part of the mourning. I mourn because I hunger for my true home, and I find it is difficult to find it and also to get to highly desired destination. So, I mourn! Charles Finney talks about how in his earlier days he and Father Nash would come together at night, weeping and wailing; that God would give him the revelation of the Word and those hours of weeping over truth gave birth to the ultimate knowledge of his destination: union with Christ. Before Finney died, he entered into union. He walked in it and taught on it, but it all started in those earlier days when all he knew were the words he heard from the Presbyterian pulpit. And yet the voice of God said, “Charles Finney, there is a greater place than what they are telling you, come out and come up.” He heard the voice, not knowing how to follow it or how to get to where the voice was leading him, but he heard it. He called upon a friend to pray with him that he might understand the Bible and what it really means and said, “I do not want to know what the denomination teaches, because there is reality in this book that is beyond what they will allow me to believe. Pray with me, cry, weep and mourn with me that my flesh will die so I can have the revelation of Jesus Christ reigning in my spirit.” Thanks be to God, he had a friend who would weep with him. Every night that he would weep, fast, pray and cry out, God was hearing and answering. God was imparting a deeper hunger, preparing his heart until He could find a safe place to deposit the infinitely valuable jewel for which he was crying out.
I am so thankful that in the beatitudes we find the wonderful promise , “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.” Finney was comforted with the revelation that his heart was seeking, but not the revelation only, for what is revelation if you cannot appropriate it? What is a hunger if it cannot be satisfied? What value to us is the reality if we can never know it? He hungered and he mourned; all the time he did this his flesh was dying. There was a place being made in his soul and spirit. If only I could help you understand that there is a life so much higher than you know. Paul said he saw things in Heaven that were illegal to talk about. It is amazing how easily we talk about divine things, and we do it because we have no fear of God. This place in the soul that truth must burrow down into is the most sacred place in the entire universe. There is no place in the eyes of Heaven or God that is more sacred than this place because it is the place that He created to be His home in you.
Truth must burrow down into the soul until it finds that sacred place. When it finally finds it, it begins to establish a throne for the Lord of glory. And the Lord says, “Sit beside me on your throne and rule until I put all enemies under your feet.” (Ps. 110:1) Once this place is discovered, the Spirit of truth goes to work to build a throne that belongs to the Lord of glory; not to you, but to your Lord. He continues working in you until this throne is completed, a throne made out of solid gold, worthy of the King of glory. Once it is completely constructed and the room is cleansed, only then is the King of glory invited to come in. He rules and reigns until He puts all His enemies under His feet. He has made His home in you and made Himself one with you and given you the most incredible, and inspiring privilege in all of creation. But He only does this for those who are worthy, and you make yourself worthy by dying. You go up onto the operating table and do not get off until all the sickness of the flesh is cut off: the various growths, corruption and cancer, scarring that it might heal. It may not sound exciting, but the end of this path, the end of this surgery is the highest calling of any human being: to become one with your Savior.
Blessed are those who mourn. It takes grace to learn to mourn over your flesh, grace that begets wisdom. It takes wisdom to mourn over your sin and flesh; it takes wisdom to recognize that without Him you are nothing. Your value in this world is wrapped up in how much of Jesus you can give and how much of you He owns; that is your value. Our flesh is not to be gratified, our flesh is not to be praised, cherished or comforted or worshipped, because if you choose the lower life you will lose the higher life. Your flesh is to be feared because it will steal you from God; you are to mourn over your flesh because it is a thief that will steal everything of value from you and keep you chasing after the profane and useless all the days of your life if you allow it to do so.
Mourn over your flesh, beg and plead with God so that whatever must die in you would die, so that you may have all of Him. You mourn over things of the world, but when you really look at it, what beauty does the world have to offer? It starves children, it kills mothers and fathers, it tells you that you can live life without God and that your eternity is secure. It lies to you, keeping you chasing after money, knowledge, lies, and vanities when you need to live a life chasing, and hungering after truth, God and the experiential knowledge of Him. The world is not our friend; the wise at heart mourn over the eternal loss that the world can cost us. It tells us in the Bible that God even keeps a record of those who mourn over it. It is wisdom to weep over anything that steals you from the knowledge of God; it is not wisdom to walk about life in gaiety when you do not have the true life ruling your soul.
God is calling His Church to come up higher through the seasons of mourning. What do you mourn over? You mourn over the death that wraps your soul in its natural state. We have got it all around us, clinging to our bones, yet we want to feed it constantly as though it were something significant and worthy of keeping alive. We are to mourn over this living death and we are to weep, pray and cry out that the life of Christ may consume it so we can walk in true life while still here on earth. My dear brothers and sisters, some of you are very familiar with my preaching and you know that it always contains an underlying sentiment to let go of the lower nature and come higher. Friends, the day is coming when the trumpet is going to sound and those who have been wise, heard the truth, and cried in sorrow seeking out the higher life will be called into that for which they have craved and fought the good battle. Paul urges us to fight the good fight of faith, to let the world and the flesh go, to let the sin die and to be made one with Christ. That is the good fight of faith. You have not fulfilled the purpose of this life unless you have entered into the higher life. If you do not attain this purpose, the day will come when you stand before His illustrious throne, looking back, realizing what a fool you had been to think the world was so important, realizing everything you had fought to hold on to stole the best you could have had.
Blessed are those who mourn: these are the sons of the kingdom. They mourn over their flesh, the world, sin and everything that keeps them from Him. In their mourning, God sends a remedy – the Spirit of Holiness to do what no man can do. People talk foolishly about angels, as if they were our playmates. When someone talks about angels in this manner I think, “You do not know anything at all.” Do you know what the chief job of your guardian angel is? The chief job of your guardian angel is to cut away your flesh and to help you find truth; the blood of your lessons clings to his gown. He wants to bring you into all truth, cutting away from you everything that hinders you from God; that is his job. He guards, protects and speaks wisdom into your soul, but his main assignment is to lead you in a path of righteousness until you finally get it straight. He cuts away you’re the life of yoru flesh and leads you in and out of every situation to help you hate your flesh, and he does it dutifully. They are not here to be playmates going on careless little trips with you. They are here to destroy whatever keeps you from God; that is love and wisdom.
The saints and the angels are in Heaven praying, “Help them die Lord! They are fighting awfully hard; their flesh is prevailing, help them die and do not give up!” All of Heaven is praying for the Church that it will come out of the lower life into the higher life where it can rule and reign with Christ. The saints on earth are praying the same thing for one another, in the spirit and in the natural; we pray the Word. But when we are praying in the spirit, not know exactly what we are praying for, it is this: help me die that you might live in me and in the Church!
It is a beautiful thing that God is doing – a glory so lofty as to let fallen man come into His family and take on the nature and character of Christ. To become one with the Son who is the first born among many brethren. The devil hates it, God loves it; the world hates it, the Church loves it. We are crying out for the coming forth of the sons of God. The Church is crying out from deep within her heart, “Bring them forth!” The Spirit of the Lord is ever in you interceding with groans too deep for utterance, “Bring forth the full Sonship in this vessel, Lord. Help them overcome every hindrance, their flesh, soul, lusts, passions, the world and devil!” He is praying so deep inside of you that you cannot even hear the words or sounds, you do not even feel the praying but He is praying, groaning and travailing for Sonship to be brought forward and for you to overcome all things to bring forth the Son, fully formed, in your vessel. He is praying, “Father what shall I do to administer Your grace and bring forth the Son in this vessel?”All of Heaven is working: the Spirit in you, the angels on the earth, the saints are praying; all of creation is travailing to bring forth the Son in you. God is brooding over the waters (your soul) to bring forth the purpose and plan of the Son.
Get hungry to know truth, about you, Jesus, His kingdom and truth about the world. Get hungry to know truth, let go of everything that clouds truth. There is so much knowledge out there that the world is full of, but it is not truth. Truth will take you to Christ; knowledge will get you nowhere. But I could say this a thousand times and to a thousand people, and nine-hundred and ninety-nine will keep seeking knowledge, because knowledge puffs up but truth kills that which would keep you from God. I love the beatitudes because through the Sermon on the Mount Jesus tells us how to go deep in God. He tells us everything we need to know about how to walk with God. He was grace in motion, the beauty of deity, so incredibly beautiful with every step He took, breath He breathed, word He spoke, and thought He thought. He was the beauty of the Father expressed and He came to teach us how to walk with the Father and He gave it all to us in the Sermon on the Mount. Yet the Church has fumbled for two-thousand years pointing the finger at Israel, as though they did something different than we have done. Though the Church has read the Bible front to back, they have yet to discover the secret that He gave to us in a few chapters of teaching, which starts by mourning, which you now delight to enjoy.