Discipleship

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Discipleship Means Christ

Posted by on 05 Oct 2013 | Tagged as: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship

It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb,

Rev. 14:4

Discipleship means to walk with Jesus where he walks, go with him wherever he goes, study the words that he says, obey the instructions he gives, imitating his life as he lived it–even if it means certain death. Discipleship requires that Jesus be given primary allegiance: full and wholehearted devotion with special focus on obedience to his commands and purposes (Matt. 16:24-26). Discipleship is a result and consequence of a genuine and living faith in Jesus’ sinless life, his shed blood, and glorious resurrection.

Discipleship means adherence to Christ, and, because Christ is the object of that adherence, it must take the form of discipleship.

An abstract Christology, a doctrinal system, a general religious knowledge on the subject of grace or on the forgiveness of sins, render discipleship superfluous, and in fact they positively exclude any idea of discipleship whatever, and are essentially inimical to the whole conception of following Christ.

With an abstract idea it is possible to enter into a relation of formal knowledge, to become enthusiastic about it, and perhaps even to put it into practice; but it can never be followed in personal obedience.

Christianity without the living Christ is inevitably Christianity without discipleship, and Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (New York: Touchstone, 1995), 59 [paragraphing added].

HT: Desiring God

The Disciple Follows

Posted by on 15 Jun 2011 | Tagged as: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship

The Call of Christ

Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Luke 9:61-62 ESV

Discipleship means to walk with Jesus where he walks, go with him wherever he goes, study the words that he says, obey the instructions he gives, imitating his life as he lived it–even if it means certain death. Discipleship requires that Jesus be given primary allegiance: full and wholehearted devotion with special focus on obedience to his commands and purposes (Matt. 16:24-26). Discipleship is a result and consequence of a genuine and living faith in Jesus’ sinless life, his shed blood, and glorious resurrection.

When we are called to follow Christ, we are summoned to the exclusive attachment to his person. The grace of his call bursts all the bonds of legalism. It is a gracious call, a gracious commandment. It transcends the difference between the law and the gospel. Christ calls, the disciple follows: that is grace and commandment in one.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (Touchstone, 1955), 59.

 

A Friend

Posted by on 02 Aug 2010 | Tagged as: Discipleship

A True Companion

There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.

Prov. 18:24 NLT

I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.

John 15:15 NLT

A friend loves you and reminds you that Jesus is worthy to be trusted in any and every circumstance of life. A friend desires the best for the other displaying sympathy and empathy in the struggles of life. Honesty is always first and foremost in the relationship even when speaking the truth in love is difficult and painful. Freedom exists in the relationship especially in confronting the perceived faults of the other friend. A good friend understands and emotionally supports their companion even if their failures are the result of their own stupidity and stubbornness. True friends trust in one another explicitly even when circumstances would question that loyalty.  A friend is someone who knows everything about you, and yet, still loves you.

A friend is someone who stays with you in the bad weather of life, guards you when you are off your guard, restrains your impetuosity, delights in your wholeness, forgives your failures, does not forsake you when others let you down, and shares whatever he is having for breakfast—moon pie, cold pizza, or fish and chips.

Brennan Manning, Reflections for Ragamuffins, 137.

It does not seem that I can trust anyone,” said Frodo.

“It all depends on what you mean,” put in Merry. “You can trust us to stick to you through thick and thin–to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours–closer than you yourself keep it. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends, Frodo. Anyway: there it is. We know most of what Gandalf has told you. We know a good deal about the ring. We are horribly afraid–but we are coming with you; or following you like hounds.”

J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring (Houghton Mifflin, 1994), 103.

HT: Between Two Worlds

No iphone App For That

Posted by on 18 Jul 2010 | Tagged as: A. W. Tozer, Discipleship, Spiritual Disciplines

No Short Cuts

No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

John 15:15

We get impatient, we do want it all now. We are spoiled by all our high speed technological gizmos. As twenty-first century technology addicts, we have electronic devices that give us everything and everyone at our disposal. With the touch of one finger, we talk to Africa or order lunch across town.

However, we stop “walking in the Spirit” the moment our battery fails, a program locks-up, or an application fails to load. We complain when the internet is down and when our phone coverage is not 4G perfect. We want everything to work NOW with no glitches. Otherwise, we have a hissy fit and make sure that the appropriate customer service representative knows our frustration. We dismiss our bad behavior as genuine concern for the benefit of other customers who might have the same problem. We fail to see that our impatience is sin.

In many ways, our attitude toward technology has been transposed into our relationship with God. God must answer our prayers instantly in no more than a few kilobyte seconds. No waiting list for us: our needs must be prioritized, and therefore, ranked first in the Kingdom. Our prayer life is a series of one-liners: we treat God like a Facebook friend or Twitter account.

However, there are no speedy shortcuts to developing a relationship with God. Prayer, study, meditation, fellowship, and the sacraments cannot be performed with an app or a touch on a screen. God is more concerned with developing a relationship with us than he is answering our wishes and desires instantaneously. No iphone application exists as a shortcut for an enduring relationship with God.

In my creature impatience I am often caused to wish that there were some way to bring modern Christians into a deeper spiritual life painlessly by short easy lessons; but such wishes are vain. No short cut exists. God has not bowed to our nervous haste nor embraced the methods of our machine age.

It is well that we accept the hard truth now: the man who would know God must give time to Him. He must count no time wasted that is spent in the cultivation of His acquaintance. He must give himself to meditation and prayer hours on end.

So did the saints of old, the glorious company of the apostles, the goodly fellowship of the prophets and the believing members of the holy Church in all generations. And so must we if we would follow in their train.

A. W. Tozer, God’s Pursuit of Man (Camp Hill, PA: Wingspread, 1950), 5.

The School of Christ

Posted by on 05 Jun 2010 | Tagged as: Discipleship, John Stott

A School Like No Other

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Matt. 11:29-30

The day you gave your life to Christ is the day that you enrolled in the school of Christ (John 15:1-4). The school of Christ is like no other: its instruction deals with the heart. The curriculum deals with character development, heart purity, and Spirit obedience. The goal of instruction: Christlikeness. The classroom is life and the teaching is not complicated, but requires an open heart and a ready spirit. The education is simple, but not easy: walk in the Spirit by responding and not reacting to our circumstances (Gal. 5:16). The book we study is the Bible, our mentor is the Holy Spirit, and our instructor is Jesus Christ himself (1 John 2:27).

The effectiveness of the School’s instruction is dependent on the receptivity of our hearts. Christ’s teaching exposes our stubbornness, pride, and self-will. Will we repent? Will we respond? Will we trust? The goal: create an open heaven (John 1:51) between us and God. The fruit: a lifelong experience of abiding in Christ (John 15:4). Training in the the school of Christ brings a child of God into unparalleled intimacy with God (Eph. 3:16-19).

Every Christian is a pupil in the school of Jesus Christ. We sit at the feet of our Master. We want to bring our minds and our wills, our beliefs and our standards, under his yoke. In the Upper Room he said to the apostles: ‘You call me “Teacher” and “Lord”, and rightly so, for that is what I am’ (Jn. 13:13). That is, ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord’ were no mere courtesy titles; they bore witness to a reality. Jesus Christ is our Teacher to instruct us and our Lord to command us.

All Christian people are under the instruction and the discipline of Jesus Christ. It should be inconceivable for a Christian ever to disagree with, or to disobey, him. Whenever we do, the credibility of our claim to be converted Christians is in doubt. For we are not truly converted if we are not intellectually and morally converted, and we are not intellectually and morally converted if we have not subjected our minds and our wills to the yoke of Jesus Christ.

John Stott, Life in Christ (Eastbourne: Kingsway, 1991), 57.

Death by Discipleship

Posted by on 03 Sep 2009 | Tagged as: Dallas Willard, Discipleship, Early Church Father

A Follower, Lover, and Learner of Jesus

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. . . . So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

Luke 14:26-27,33 (ESV)

Discipleship means to walk with Jesus where he walks, go with him wherever he goes, study the words that he says, obey the instructions he gives, imitating his life as he lived it–even if it means certain death. Discipleship requires that Jesus be given primary allegiance: full and wholehearted devotion with special focus on obedience to his commands is required (Matt. 16: 24-26). Discipleship is a result and consequence of a genuine and living faith in Jesus’ sinless life, his shed blood, and glorious resurrection.

I gave as an offering my all to Him Who had won me and saved me, my property, my fame, my health, my very words… In considering all these things, I preferred Christ. And the words of God were made sweet as honeycombs to me, and I cried after knowledge and lifted up my voice for wisdom. There was moreover the moderation of anger, the curbing of the tongue, the restraint of the eyes, the discipline of the belly, and the trampling under foot of the glory which clings to the earth.

St. Gregory of Nazianzus

Ambivalence in the life of a disciple toward Jesus’ lordship means no peace that passes all understanding, no full and complete experience of God’s unconditional love, no faith that trusts God’s eternal goodness, no hope in the midst of disappointing circumstances, no ability and power to do the right thing at the right time, and no strength to stand against Satan’s wiles and temptations (James 1:6-7). If he or she is double-minded, they will lack that abundance of life that Jesus spoke of and promised for every believer (John 10:10).

As a disciple of Jesus I am with him, by choice and by grace, learning from him how to live in the kingdom of God. This is the crucial idea. That means, we recall, how to live within the range of God’s effective will, his life flowing through mine. Another important way of putting this is to say that I am learning from Jesus to live my life if he were I. I am not necessarily learning to do everything that he did, but I am learning how to do everything that I do in the manner that he did all that he did.

Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1997), 283.