Commands of Christ

Commands of Christ - The Curriculum for Christ likeness


commands of christJesus said “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? Throughout Jesus’ ministry He gave His disciples 244 commands (Greek Imperatives). These commands address 6 topics for seekers; 4 topics for believers; 31 topics for workers and 2 topics to reproducers. In a day with so many resources available in bookstores what curriculum do you choose? If we want to get the Disciplemaking job done we need to start with Christ’s instruction in the Great Commission to “… teach them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). Jesus promised if we obeyed these commands we would express our love for Him (John 14:15), He would reveal Himself to us (John 14:21), we would possess the assurance that we know Him (1 John 2:3), and life’s burden would be lifted (1 John 5:3). These commands are not a list of legalistic rules but a list of life-giving truths. Learning and observing these commands is challenging because it requires a reorientation of one’s life from loving self to loving God (John 14:15), saying “no” to self and “yes” to God (Luke 9:23).



QUESTION: I had heard that it was a sickness that prompted you to study the discipleship commands in depth like this... is that true?



ANSWER: Shortly after coming to faith in Christ in 1972 I was challenged by a Chapel speaker in Bible College to “study the commands of Christ!” He kept saying “if you want to be discipled you need to learn & obey the commands of Christ”. With new believer zeal I marched down to the campus bookstore and announced that I wanted to be discipled so I wanted to purchase the commands of Christ book. Andy, the store manger, looked at me a little puzzled and asked what I wanted. After scanning the shelves, Andy turned on the micro fiche (I’m dating myself) and searched for The Commands of Christ book to no avail. He gave me several phone numbers for publishers like Moody, Zondervan, Revel, etc. I contacted each and was told they didn’t sell such a product but thought it was a great idea. Somewhat discouraged I returned to the bookstore and asked Andy what else I could do to be discipled in these commands. He said he remembered when he took Greek New Testament that each verb had tense, voice, and mood, and that the imperative mood was the mood of command. He suggested that I go over to the Greek Professor who might be able to help me.


Once the Greek Professor established that I was only a freshman and wouldn’t start Greek until my junior year, he was more than helpful when he saw my drive to learn the commands Christ gave His disciples. He said I could do a self-study. He showed me a red letter bible, an interlinear bible, and a Greek parsing guide. The next few months I meticulously read through the Gospels identifying every verb. I first determined whether Christ spoke them (red letter) and then whether they were in the imperative mood – the mood of command.


The following year I heard that one of the school’s professors was doing a similar study and was trying to arrange the commands into three categories: historical commands, local commands & universal commands. I began to go through my list and do the same. My next goal was to group the universal commands (commands for every believer) by topic (salvation, persecution, moral purity, promise-keeping, worry, cross-bearing) and select the largest context with the key command verse therein. I began writing small group studies on each of the selected passages. Each of these studies started with a list of every place this particular command topic was found in the Gospels. Then as time went on I added where these commands were “illustrated in Acts” and “amplified in the Epistles”.


Over the years as I’ve discipled men and women in these commands, the study has continued to develop and deepen.


After resigning from my first pastorate I began to take the Commands of Christ to a whole new level of depth. This time I wanted to identify the target audience to whom Jesus spoke these commands (Greek Imperatives). Were these commands directed to seekers, believers, workers or reproducers? During this period of time between pastorates I did disciplemaking seminars and resurrected my old trade of carpentry. Every other waking moment was trying to be a good husband, a good dad and a good student of the commands of Christ. On a Monday night a few weeks into my transition a knock came at our front door. I answered the door, ready to explain that I was in the middle of discipling a group of men in our living room. To my surprise a large group of people barged in anyway. These were people we had discipled in the past. They began to minister to my wife and I, they sang, shared Scripture verses, gave testimonies and presented us with a check for $1,800.00 dollars. They said we would receive one of these checks every month for the next 6 months. They said they wanted me to be freed up to continue to write the commands of Christ Notebook and not feel rushed in my search for another pastorate. Two months later I had a heart palpitation. I thought my heart was going to beat out of my body.  I went in for an EKG – nothing. They put a heart monitor on me for a week – nothing. I went in for a stress test – Bingo. Two minutes into the stress test they said I had to get off or have a heart attack. They rushed me into the hospital for a catheterization and found 3 major blockages. They admitted me as a patient, gave me a day during which I wrote a will & a blessing for each of my children and the next day I had a triple-by-pass. God wonderfully protected me and brought me through the surgery and recovery. When I was recovering the group that had begun to send us a monthly check said they had decided to extend their generosity for an additional six months. God and His people are so good!


The Commands of Christ was taken to a new level of depth during this period of time. I identified the target audiences as planned and integrated the Harmony of the Gospels [Thomas & Gundry] into the study. I’m currently doing the research for a teacher’s edition with answers to the small group lessons. I’m also building each small group lesson around a 5W’s format (Welcome, Worship, Witness, Word, Work). This is my life work, it’s a working document and I’m not sure it will ever be done. The more I study these commands the more I realize they are inexhaustible! The power of these commands to transform life is just amazing!