5 Fold Church- Discipleship Part 2
Strong and Courageous
February 1, 2019
We are continuing on the topic of discussing the 5 aspects for a local church to be healthy or centered. Today we are taking a second look at the role of discipleship. In last week’s post, we laid out 3 distinctive parts of discipleship found in the great commission in Matthew 28. They are, being teachable, being obedient and being in proper relationship with who Jesus is.
I tend to be a systems sort of person and I know that the preceding can seem like a cookbook recipe. However, there is much more on the subject of discipleship than just forming check boxes so that we can say yes, I have done this, this and that. Therefore, I have pretty much figured this whole thing out (in a sort of egotistical way). This is where potential danger lies. In our passionate desire to follow Jesus, it can become possible to try to rate ourselves (and others) to see what our spiritual temperature is. E.G. I am hot, but the other person, they sure are cold or maybe they are lukewarm. This subtle inclination can lead to what Michael Horton describes as a “therapeutic moral deism”, which is trying to obtain our salvation through works. Alternatively, by judging ourselves as better than others because we are intentional about obeying the law. We cannot look at any form of self-righteousness qualifying us to be saved. We are saved, only by the grace of God through faith.
So the challenge is how are we to live a pious and holy lifestyle without being judgmental or legalistic? I actually spent many of my earlier years in a fog about this very issue. I would ask myself, which is right, should I be following all of the Christian “rules” or should I be focusing on loving Jesus and just abandon any desire for holiness? I viewed them as mutually exclusive, when in fact both are necessary and clearly portrayed in the scriptures.
So we say yes to salvation by faith alone. And we also say yes to God’s purpose to transform our lives into what He desires for us to be. This takes place through a mysterious implanting of the Holy Spirit into the hearts and minds of believers. This is a pledge for our future inheritance in heaven and is all about what the Kingdom of God means for us. Our obedience is birthed out of a sincere desire to be pleasing to Almighty God.
Joe Boot, the author of book titled Searching for Truth describes both grace and piety being woven together in the life of the Christian. Concerning grace, he says, “The forgiveness of God is free, but it is not cheap. He is always ready to forgive and to embrace us into his family, but his pardon cannot be abused. It is not a license to go out and live as we please. Christ offered his life to purchase our salvation. There is nothing we can do to put ourselves right with God, apart from the sacrificial death of Jesus. We cannot earn it, and can never claim that we deserve it. No amount of good deeds can reconcile us to a Holy God.” Boot goes on to say about being pious, “We are required to change our minds about sin and to set our will to obey the new master of our lives, the Lord Jesus Christ himself. By His Holy Spirit according to the new covenant, he establishes his law in our hearts, the law of love, which enables us to live a life of obedience that is pleasing to God, putting us at peace with him, with others and with ourselves.” Therapeutic Moral Deism (which is alive and well in many churches in our nation), can never bring the sort of peace that Boot has described for us. This type of discipleship will lead us away from the trappings of legalism and having a critical spirit.
Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (esv)