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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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The Christian Disciple

jesus-teaching-disciplesA disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. (Luke 6:40 ESV)

If you are a disciple, you have submitted to the authority of another in order to receive instruction in wisdom, knowledge, proper conduct, and behavior. People today may consider the concept of Christian discipleship to be old-fashioned, legalistic, or “out of style”. However, Christianity promotes a change in our behavior, through discipleship, which can be seen by the world. To do this, we must strive to be more like our teacher – Jesus Christ.

Discipleship and the philosophy of instant gratification do not mix well. Too often, the church focuses on “winning” others to Christ and then fails to teach converts how to live like Christ. Fewer sermons take up the subject of working “out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12, ESV) There is, certainly, a clear lack of concern for Paul’s appeal “to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2, ESV)

Faith and discipleship (sanctification) are often misunderstood by Christians. True justification by faith in Christ always leads to the process of sanctification (A human being is sanctified when he or she lives according to God’s design and purpose – Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology) It is a terrible error to think that when you are justified, you have no further need to pursue sanctification. John Piper writes:

“The faith that justifies also satisfies—it satisfies the human heart and frees it from the deceptive satisfactions of sin. Faith is the expulsive power of a new affection (Thomas Chalmers). That is why justification and the process of sanctification always go together. They both come from the same faith. Perfection comes at the end of life when we die or when Christ returns, but the pursuit of holy living begins with the first mustard seed of faith. That’s the nature of saving faith. It finds satisfaction in Christ and so is weaned away from the satisfactions of sin.” (“God Sanctifies His People”)

The disciple’s progressive sanctification is described in Galatians 5:19-23. It is a life’s journey of producing less and less of the acts of the sinful nature (Galatians 5:19-21) and more and more of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Progressive sanctification is a process empowered by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), prayer, and the study of God’s Word. Is it possible to be a disciple if we do not even attempt to obey God’s Word? We must remember that a disciple seeks to live “according to God’s design and purpose.” A disciple is a bondservant who loves and desires to become just like his teacher.

In conclusion, we must always remember that the importance of becoming a disciple is confirmed by Jesus in these words:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20 ESV)

Samuel at Gilgal

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