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The Daily Word of Righteousness
The Work of Restoration, #87
And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. (I Corinthians 12:28)
The reason why the pastor-congregation concept is inefficient and ineffective in building up the Body of Christ is that those who congregate are not coming as learners. They are coming to fulfill what is expected of them as believers. They are not intent on mastering various aspects of the Kingdom of God to the extent they can perform the work of the Kingdom and build up the Body of Christ.
The "Muster Gate"
The "Muster Gate" ("the gate Miphkad"—Nehemiah 3:31) speaks to us of the military aspect of the Christian discipleship. Discipleship and being a soldier have many points in common.
And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. (II Timothy 2:2-4)
Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. (II Timothy 2:3)
Notice the close relationship between discipleship and being a soldier of Christ. A soldier is a man under discipline. He is dedicated to the service of his king. He will give his life for his country. He will obey orders, even to death. He lives to serve his king and country. So it is with the disciple of Christ.
A good soldier endures hardness without complaining. He realizes that in order to win a war there must be much suffering, much danger, much discomfort to one's self. He does not complain because complaining would weaken the hands of his fellow soldiers and aid the enemy.
No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. (II Timothy 2:4)
A soldier has one goal in life—to keep himself prepared to destroy the enemy of his king. Every other matter is secondary in importance. A good soldier does nothing that will enable the enemy to catch him off guard and do damage to what he has been assigned to protect.
The final mention of the "Sheep Gate" reveals that our Good Shepherd always will be among His sheep, gently and lovingly making them lie down in green pastures and leading them beside the quiet waters (Isaiah 40:11).
Even while we are making our pilgrimage through this "valley of the shadow of death," striving to please God while we yet are in a physical body that is "dead because of sin," Christ leads us in paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
Such are the wall and gates of Jerusalem. The gates of the holy city, the new Jerusalem, are twelve in number (Revelation 21:21). There were twelve tribes of Israel. Twelve is the number that symbolizes the completeness of God's household.
There is an important concept embodied in the twelve gates. It is that God is going to guide His sheep until every one attains the perfection required for his or her place in the new Jerusalem.
We are not implying that everyone ultimately will be saved. Rather, we are stating every individual whom Jesus regards as one of His own will be made perfect through His redeeming glory, provided, of course, he or she obeys the Lord and cooperates with Him in the program of redemption. There is no place in the Kingdom of God for the lazy, disobedient person.
To be continued.