Tag Archives: Discipleship

Discipleship Means Christ

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

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.

 

The School of Christ

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

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.