There are two central things that Rose Creek Village believes. One, a disciple is to follow Jesus Christ with all his heart, mind, soul, and strengh, and two, he is to follow Christ in perfect unity with all others who follow Christ.
The Scriptures say, “Follow righteousness, faith, love, and peace along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22).Â That verse sums up what we are trying to do. Everything else we teach is to advance those two main causes for which we live.
On the first subject, following Christ with everything in you, I want to focus on one word. That word is “cannot.” In Luke 14:26-33, the passage from which we get the phrase “count the cost,” Jesus says the word “cannot” three times. Each time he says that there is something a person must do, or they “cannot” be his disciple.
Many excuse have been concocted by modern believers to avoid Jesus’ “cannot.” Some teach that Jesus taught the law because it wasn’t abolished until his death. This is nonsense, of course, as it leads to “believers” ignoring the teachings of the very Master they say they follow. (See also any of the articles on this page if you, too, believe Jesus taught under the Law.) Others have said it’s not necessary to be a disciple; being a believer is sufficient. This, too, is not true. The followers of Christ are called disciples 29 times in the book of Acts, but believers just once.
No, it’s a clear teaching of Jesus that unless you hate your family, your possessions, and your own life so that you take up your cross and give up your possessions, you “cannot”Â be Jesus’ disciple. That’s what Jesus taught. You can try to be his disciple without following him his way, but you won’t be able to do it. He says you “cannot” do it.
Admittedly, there are various ways of interpreting those things. Obviously, Jesus doesn’t want you to strip yourself naked set out penniless through the world. However, he did want you to do something. I find it hard to believe that “save up for retirement, go to an expensive college, and ignore your out-of-work brother in Christ” is an acceptable interpretation of “forsake all your possessions.” Don’t you?
On the second subject, that of serving Christ together (“in perfect unity” is howÂ our MasterÂ says it in Jn. 17:23), I want to point out two things. One, the testimony with whichÂ Jesus is goingÂ to change the world is that his disciples love one another and are a family. Two, the only way that the Bible says we grow is together.
First, Jesus’ prayer in Jn. 17:20-23 states in no uncertain terms that our unity is tied to the world believing in Christ. Jesus cannot possibly mean the kind of “meeting unity” that most Christians have. Boy Scouts have that kind of unity. What kind of unity would make the world believe that Jesus is sent by God? Jesus calls it a perfect unity. He says it’s the sort of unity that the Father has with the Son. It’s the kind of unity that could be described as “you in me, and I in you.” That’s not a Sunday morning and Bible study unity. It’s the “one heart, one mind” kind of unity that Paul mentions repeatedly.
The Spirit of God is supposed to make us a spiritual family. He’s supposed to make us into a people that can’t live without one another, like members of one body, each part needing the other. In 1 Tim. 3:15, the church is called “the household of God.” If Jesus is going to tell us that we are to “hate” our fathers, mothers, siblings, spouse, and children, then clearly he believes that our new spiritual family, the church, is supposed to be a much stronger, much more united family than our biological families.
Stunning? Yeah, I know. It would take a miracle. Something like a new birth. Something like that might make someone believe in God.
Matthew 5:13-16 is one of my favorite passages in this respect. The “you” used throughout those verses is plural in the Greek. That means he’s not talking to us as individuals. He means that we together are the light of the world. He means that our good works are to shine a light to the world, not my good works. That’s why he says it’s a “city” set on a hill that cannot be hidden. An individual on a hill can hide with no problem. Only together can we light up the whole area so that it can be seen from a distance.
Isaiah 60 tells us, “Arise, shine, for your light has come! The glory of the Lord has risen upon you!” It goes on to say that “Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”
Together our light will shine to the world. When this happens, people will come to us! I’m not saying we shouldn’t go to them, but according to the Scriptures it’s normal for people to come to us. That will happen when we are loving one another with that miraculous love from heaven. When was the last time someone asked you “a reason for the hope that is in you”? (1 Pet. 3:15) They will when they get a chance to glimpse the love of the Spirit that causes those born again in Christ to separate from the world and attach themselves to one another.
But it’s not just the world that needs us to be together. We need to be together. The Scriptures say that we are like body parts, so that the eye can’t say to the hand, “I have no need of you” (1 Cor. 12:21). We are inextricably linked by the Spirit of God. When a person really forsakes everything–even his own life–for the sake of Christ, he will find that he is filled with love for all those who love his Lord like he does.
That need has everything to do with our growth in Christ. Hebrews tells us that we are to exhort one another “every day,” lest we be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness (3:13). Ephesians 4 says it even more clearly. There we learn that we grow only as every part does its share, and that it’s our speaking the truth in love to one another that causes growth of the body and protection from deception (vv. 11-16).
We tend to think it is Bible study that makes us grow and protects us from deception. That’s not enough. If we are not exhorted daily, then we are in danger of hardening–says that Bible we are studying–even if we’re reading the Bible. Millions of people study the Bible and disagree every day. Division is a work of the flesh, so studying the Bible is not delivering those people from being fleshly. Millions of people also study the Bible every day and are deceived, at least according to theÂ millions of people who disagree with them on the Bible. Studying the Bible is not enough. We must be those who are together, speaking the truth to one another in love.
In another one of those Bible passages where the Greek “you” is plural, the apostle John tells us that it is “the anointing” that will protect us from those who are trying to seduce us. There is an anointing that God gives to the saints when they are together that will lead them into truth. At least, that’s what 1 John 2:27 says. So if we are going to be Bible believers, then we need to believe that we need more than the Bible to grow and to avoid deception. We need each other.
The main points we focus on at Rose Creek Village are very clear Bible teachings, but they have been lost for a long time. For some reason, Christians have lost the knowledge of how important it is to love one another, to be of one heart and one mind, to take care of one another, to forsake the world and its riches, and to be a new family together in Christ. These teachings are not esoteric, mysterious teachings available only to those who do deep exegesis in the original languages. These teachings are on every page of the New Testament, but somehow we westerners find them extreme. If not extreme, then in some way unbelievable because we don’t believe them.
Are you distressed with the state of modern Christianity? with the worldliness in your church? with the worldliness in your own life? This is the place to start. Give up everything, your whole life, and enter the life of Christ along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Like the Psalmist declare, “The saints that are in the earth . . . they are all my delight” (Ps. 16:3).