“The king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord, keeping his commandments, his decrees, and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. All the people joined in the covenant.” (Reference: 2 Kings 23:3 )
We have learned how the historic Anabaptists Feared the Lord, and how they thought and on the spiritual practice of Repentance. Now we turn to the practice of Discipleship. Modern Anabaptists / Mennonites address this spiritual practice in their Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective , a source of scripture that the daily “Sip of Scripture” uses in there five year thematic cycle. But we will be looking at this practice as the historic Anabaptists understood it.
The first scripture, from 2 Kings, concerns what King Josiah did to follow the laws and commandments of God and to have the people of Israel follow the laws and worship rightly. Josiah cleansed and abolished the practices and places that were an abomination to God. But moreover, Josiah pledged himself and pledged on behalf of his people to follow God faithfully and properly. It is not enough just to repent – there must be visible change.
While the historic Anabaptists did not as violently change their ways (see the rest of chapter 23 to understand my statement), they vehemently maintained their discipleship to God. Joost Verkindert, like many historic Anabaptists, was jailed because of his faith practices and expressed beliefs. He was visited on August 17, 1570 by the “bishop’s commissarr” and told his wife of the visit in a letter. “I showed him, that Israel was forbidden to follow their own opinions, but were to observe only what the Lord had commanded; and I told him how severely Saul was punished by the Lord, because he, following his own mind, had spared the king of the Amalekites, and the best of the oxen and sheep.” It would have been clear to the “bishop’s commissarr” that Verkindert was comparing the state church leadership of being like Israel and following their own faulty opinions. The “bishop’s commissarr” replied that they did not follow faulty and erroneous practices. Verkindert told his wife he responded by saying, “Thereupon I told him of the pious king Josiah: that he did not regard the ancient customs and ceremonies of his forefathers, but that he destroyed all that had been instituted contrary to the law, and commanded the law to be observed aright. 2 Kings 23. To this he had but little to say.” You must understand, beloved, that such questionings were not done under gentle and mild conditions, but were done in the prison where conditions were brutal and torturing frequent. For the historic Anabaptists discipleship meant following God’s commandments and laws, as they understood them, despite what anyone else might say or do, or whatever precedents and practices might have been in place before. They were called to a strict and exact way of faith and life, and would not deviant from it even at risk of death.
May you beloved follow God as the Lord leads, and may you not ever let anything make you step away from it. Selah!