I sidled up to the crowded counter where my husband was getting ready to pay for gasoline and his drink at the convenience store. I placed my coffee next to his––as I always do. To my surprise, he said, “What are you doing?”
When we got into the car, I asked him, “What was that all about back there? Why did you ask me what I was doing?”
“It was crowded, and I could hardly get my money out of my wallet. You were too close to me.”
Having learned to pick my battles, I let it drop, but my feelers were hurt and as much as I fought taking an offense, I did, until I went for a walk that evening and had a full-out pity party. I complained to the Lord and let it all out.
As I rounded the corner close to the house, I heard the still, small voice of the Lord say you can’t get too close to me.As I rounded the corner close to the house, I heard the still, small voice of the Lord say you can’t get too close to me.
These words stopped me in my tracks, as I knew they were also the Lord’s loving correction to me. I needed to seek His face more than I had been doing. One day of missing to read my Bible had led to another, and now, I had let my spiritual armor down and felt far from God.
When I sought the Lord, I was reminded of what I had recently heard a preacher say, “There are five levels, or stages in the Christian’s life: believer, disciple, bondservant, friend and son/daughter.” That was it, no explanation of these.
My first reaction was to think there was another level beyond son/daughter. Finally, as I determined to research what the Lord had to say about this, I realized I was wrong, and what He showed me was a pleasant surprise.
Please follow along with me as we discern these five progressive levels of growth in relationship to God Jesus Christ: a relationship not religion. You may feel like I did, far from God, or you may be a new believer who, like me years ago, did not know what to do with what they got when they asked Jesus into their heart.
You may be a stressed-out mom or dad, or single person feeling unloved and unappreciated, rejected or neglected. You long for someone who would just have your best interests at heart. If so, you must keep reading.
The still, small voice of the Lord is just waiting to speak to you now and give you encouragement and new direction.
BELIEVER: The First Progressive Level in Relationship to God Jesus Christ
The Bible Believer believes these four things:
• Jesus was sent from God and is His Son (John 3:16);
• He was born of a virgin (Luke 1:27,31)
• He died on the cross as the lamb of God; thus, paying the price for sin, for without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22);
• He was buried and rose again, “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
Jesus himself gives us a definition of what a true believer is when He prays for His disciples right before He is crucified. “I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me” (John 17:8).
[I will be giving you a few links in this post as examples of the 5 stages in relationship to God Jesus Christ. These stories are from my free eCourse on this Web site to my book GOD Who Are You? AND Who Am I? Knowing and Experiencing God by His Hebrew Names. These are merely 15-minute segments from the whole book and course.]
HERE Is a link to MY STORY – HOW EL ROI FOUND ME. Just click on it for a pdf file of my story. Mothers and grandmothers have used this simple model to lead their children or grandchildren to the Lord.
DISCIPLE: The Second Progressive Level in Relationship to God Jesus Christ
The disciple encompasses three D’s: Disciple, Discipline and Decision
• Disciple: Webster’s dictionary’s very first definition of disciple uses the synonym of ‘follower’ to explain that this disciple is “a follower of Jesus Christ, and one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another.”
• Discipline: “to train or develop by instruction and exercise in self-control” (Webster’s). To be a disciplined disciple, the believer must make a:
• Decision: Jesus said to His disciples, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” And what did they do? They immediately left their fishing nets and followed Him. James and John were in the boat with their father mending their nets. When Jesus called them, they immediately left the boat and their father, and followed Him (Matthew 4:22).
It was this very account of Jesus calling His disciples that got my husband’s and my attention when we made the conscious, quality decision to follow Him. Jesus knew his twelve disciples before he called them by name to follow Him.
Jesus is still walking along the seashore calling out believers by name to make Him Number One, LORD of all. He wants followers who are quality-decision making, disciplined disciples.
Click this link for my story of how I learned the hard lesson of what a true disciple meant––with answered prayers>>HOW I LEARNED TO RECEIVE BY FAITH
Click here for our story of how my husband and I learned what it meant to follow our Shepherd, Jesus, and made that quality decision together>>OUR STORY OF LEARNING HOW TO TRUST GOD’S GUIDANCE
BONDSERVANT: The Third Progressive Level in Relationship to God Jesus Christ
Paul, Timothy, James, Peter and Jude all referred to themselves as bondservants of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. This period of servanthood is marked by trials, suffering and circumstances that cannot be understood at the time.
Jesus says that the servant does not know what his master is doing (John 15:15). Do you find this as interesting as I do? During a test, the Teacher is absent.
The bondservant stage is characterized by three things:
The word servants comes from the Greek word doulos, [Strong’s 1401]: from deo, means ‘to bind,’ The word denotes one in bondage to, or subject to another, and is usually translated, ‘slave’ or ‘servant.’ Often the service involved is voluntary, in which a person willingly offers obedience and devotion and loyalty to another, subordinating his will to him.
No longer a men-pleaser:
The disciple finally comes to realize that he/she cannot follow Jesus and worry about what other people think of them, “not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart” (Ephesians 6:6).
Humble selflessness and learned obedience:
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men, and being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5-8). Jesus, “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8).
If Jesus had to suffer to learn obedience, how do we think we can get by with less? He died literally and says we must take up His cross to follow Him. That comes only by commanding SELF to die daily – knowing that “I have been crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20). Self-centeredness is the root of all evil. Every overcomer has learned this lesson.
Every overcomer in the Bible had a period of suffering in their life before they came out on top. Only a few examples are: Joseph who spent time in prison before being exalted to overseer over all the land of Egypt; David was anointed king of Israel, yet ran and hid from Saul for many years before he was able to take the throne. Job lost his health and children, everything he had, except his wife before God restored him double.
Job said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13: 15-16).
God’s promise to the bondservant: “You prisoners of hope, even today I declare that I will restore double to you” (Zechariah 9:12).
Here is the account of when our family learned the bondservant’s lesson. We were without a job for one year in God’s School of Faith that brought miracles>>OUR STORY OF CROSSING THE DRY RIVER BED OF THE JORDAN
FRIEND: The Fourth Progressive Level in Relationship to God Jesus Christ
How would you like to be called a “friend of God?” What an honor for someone to call you that. James 2:23 tells us that, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. And he was called the friend of God.”
As Jesus was preparing his disciples for His departure at the end of their training period, He said to them,
“No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He may give you. These things I command you that you love one another” (John 15: 15-17).
A friend of God is marked by two things:
Jesus commanded that, because you are my friend, “Love One Another!” Love is the first fruit of the Spirit detailed in Galatians 5:22, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” When we learn to love, the rest will follow; without the others, there is no love; fruit is singular as one bunch of grapes.
And because we love, we will pray for others as Abraham did.
Intercession for others with the ability to change God’s mind:
Genesis 18 tells the story of Abraham’s intercession for the city of Sodom. As God was about to rain down fire and brimstone upon the evil city of sin, He said to Himself, shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing?
When Abraham learned of God’s plan to destroy Sodom, he stood before the Lord and said, “Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: “Suppose there were five less than the fifty righteous; would You destroy all of the city for lack of five?”
The LORD said, “If I find there forty-five, I will not destroy it.”
Abraham persisted until he influenced the LORD down to 10 people. The only righteous people found in the city were Abraham’s nephew Lot and family. Angels took them by the hand and led them out before fire rained down.
“Come, let us reason together,” says the LORD . . . “If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword”; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken” (Isaiah 1:18-20).
SON/DAUGHTER: The Fifth Level of Progression in Relationship with Jesus
As I contemplated this fifth and last stage of relationship—Son/Daughter– my first thoughts were, no, there is a sixth level–the body of Christ as His bride–the Bride of Christ. Slowly, the Lord directed my thoughts to Jesus’ baptism by John and proved me wrong.
The heavens were opened, and Jesus saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him, and suddenly a voice came from heaven saying,
“This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3: 17)
This must be the highest compliment from the Father possible!
I said to the Lord, “I wish I could hear You say to me that I am your daughter.”
My thoughts immediately ran to the book of Ruth, and I found chapter 3 where Boaz the family redeemer, a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ our Redeemer, spoke to Ruth.
Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi both had come through a time of great suffering in the land of Moab (and their false gods) where both their husbands had died. They were now back in Bethlehem after the famine where Naomi’s house and land remained.
Ruth had been gleaning grain from the fields of Boaz to help care for her mother-in-law. Knowing that Boaz was a close relative who could redeem their family name, Naomi prompted Ruth to go to the threshing floor at the midnight hour. Naomi told her, “uncover his feet, lie down, and he will tell you what you should do.”
“Now it happened at midnight that the man was startled and turned himself, and there, a woman was lying at his feet. And he said, “Who are you?” So she answered, “I am Ruth, your maidservant. Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative.”
Then he said, “Blessed are you of the LORD, my daughter! . . . And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request . . . .” (Ruth 3:10-11).
Ruth was referred to as ‘Ruth the Moabitess’ five times in the book of the Bible named after her, but when she responded to Boaz/Jesus who asked her who she was, she said, “I am Ruth, your maidservant (bondservant).” But, Boaz/Jesus called her His daughter.
It’s like the song titled, “I am a child of God.” From the very foundations of the world, we were created to be a companion for the Son, Jesus Christ, and to live with Him forever as His bride. The question is, “Do we know who we are?”
Is not the bride of the Bridegroom Jesus the daughter-in-love of The Father?
Boaz married Ruth and their son Obed, whose name means “He who worships,” became the father of Jesse, who was the father of King David. Twenty-eight generations after David, Joseph (of the lineage of David) married Mary, mother of Jesus—the promised Messiah.
Oh, and by the way, Ruth, who left her family back in Moab to follow Naomi’s people and their God in Bethlehem, Israel, had a name that means “friend of God—something worth seeing.”
Is not the bride of the Bridegroom, Jesus/Yeshua, the daughter-in-love of The Father?
“And it shall be in that day,” says the LORD, that you will call Me ‘My Husband,’ And no longer call Me ‘My Master,’ For I will take from her mouth the names of the Baals [idols and false gods], And they shall be remembered by their name no more” (Hosea 2:16-17)”
“You can’t get too close to me.”
MY TESTIMONY––from bondservant to daughter-in-love: YOU ARE MY VALENTINE, LOVE JESUS
All the above levels in relationship to Jesus Christ correspond to the upward spirals in the supernatural event the LORD gave me in 1994. Click here>>THE FORMING, STORMING, NORMING, & PERFORMING STAGES OF TEAMWORK.
Remember to pick up your 5-stage Summary with Scriptures>> PRINTABLE 5 Progressive Levels in Relationship with Jesus Christ
NOTE: When you sign up for the free eCourse, you will have the opportunity to download my second booklet, Eyes Wide Open, during the course that everyone receives with my monthly God blog.
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Scripture references in this post are from the New King James Version of the Bible.