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What Is Discipleship?

February 8, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

In the never ending quest to study the church and what makes it up, we hit on discipleship last week. What does God expect?What does He want from Christians? Do we just become Christians and then suddenly, we’re good to go? We can just come to church (and even only when we feel like it at that) and sing and go home? Or, is there something deeper?

Anyone who has read this blog for more than 5 days knows that I loathe Biblical Illiteracy. The statistics on Americans who claim to be Christians and their knowledge of the Bible is nothing short of embarrassing. We have tons of education, so what’s so special about learning the Bible?

But, the case can easily be built that God expects a Christ follower to grow in their knowledge of who He is – and never stop growing.

There are a few different points and aspects that Scripture builds as to what a Christian’s life should look like once he or she makes that profession of faith in Jesus Christ.

  1. Growing from a child to an adult:
    Let’s begin here.

Ephesians 4:14-16 – “Then we will no longer be immature like children…Instead, we will…grow in every way more and more like Christ.”

1 Peter 2:2-3 – “Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.”

Hebrews 5:12-14 – “You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.”

1 Peter 3:1-3 – “Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world as though you were infants in the Christian life. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, for you are still controlled by your sinful nature.”

1 Corinthians 13:11 – “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.”

I think it builds its own case. There’s the continual comparison of child-like behavior versus growing up. As Chrstians, we are not supposed to stay children. I love what the verse in Hebrews says – the people are getting in trouble because the writer of Hebrews says that they have been Christians for so long that THEY should be the ones teaching others. If that doesn’t put the pressure on people, I don’t know what should. Maybe the expectations are more than just growing in the knowledge of Christ, but then, we are to begin pouring our lives into others to disciple them and teach them to grow. But wait, that’s crazy talk, right? If that happened, then this Christianity thing might could explode!

2. Be prepared for attack. By having an in-depth knowledge of Christ and His teachings, as well as all things regarding one’s faith, we are prepared for the attacks that will come from nay-sayers of Christianity. This is sort of the purpose of my blog. But, because of my spiritual illiteracy on the issue, I never realized that the Bible cleared up the necessity of this issue. I mean, I knew it was a good idea, but the Bible tells us to learn and grow…see:

2 Peter 3:17-18 – “Be on guard so that you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people, and lose your own secure footing. Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Titus 1:9 (dealing with a church leader) – “He must have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with wholesome teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong.”

Hmmmm….be prepared to defend what you believe in. Note: you cannot defend what you believe in, if you don’t know what you believe in.

3. You’re just supposed to grow. This is tied directly into the last point, but honestly, we’re just supposed to do it. We’re supposed to be learning and growing more and more in our knowledge of who God is. In fact, Jesus’ greatest commandment was for us to love the Lord with everything we have, including our MIND.

Romans 12:1-2 – “Therefore I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing, and perfect will.”

Philippians 2:12 – “Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obey God with deep reverence and fear.”

Col 3:8-10 – “But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.”

Matthew 22:37 – “Love the Lord with all heart, soul, strength, MIND.”

Matthew 13:23 – “The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted.”

To me, all of these simply say that Christians should continually be growing in their knowledge of God. It transforms our lives, because the more we grow in the knowledge of God, the more it influences our lives. It’s like the passage in James 1 that talks about God’s Word being like a mirror that exposes our blemishes, and if we do not apply God’s Word to our lives, it’s like looking in the mirror and then walking away from the mirror without fixing the flaws in our face, or even just forgetting what we look like (thanks Francis Chan for reminding me of that passage). To grow in our knowledge of God is to grow to the point where we recognize how unworthy we are, and thus we strive to be more like Him in our lives.

4. Our purpose in growing in knowledge. This seems to be a recurring theme in the past two weeks. The purpose of the church according to Ephesians is to bring glory to God. Let’s look at 2 Peter 1:3-9:

3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

You see, God has given Christians everything that they need in this life in regards to salvation. Don’t believe me, read the first few verses of that passage. There’s the catch of growing in knowledge. It’s only through the knowledge of God and Christ that we’re fully equipped.

And, because God has given us everything we need, we should be working. We should be growing. We should be adding those fruitful characteristics to our lives in order to please God. But notice two points. 1) By growing in your knowledge, you are being beneficial to God. You are glorifying God by growing in Him. 2) By not growing, you are nearsighted, blind, and useless.

Essentially, our being a part of the church boils down to us glorifying God. Likewise, part of this glorification, according to the passage in 2 Peter 1 comes through our continual growth in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. We are to grow. And by growing, we bring glory to the name of God and Jesus Christ.

It’s that simple. And yet, we all struggle with it. Biblically the command goes that we should all be growing and learning in order to know God better, and in turn, glorify Him.

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  1. March 26, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    Hey man, great post! This is so true and I like how your so open with your audience.

    I was wondering if you would like to contribute this post and maybe others to our resource page on our website? We are reaching out to youth pastors all over the world and equipping them with some tools to make their ministry a little easier.

    Get back to me and we’ll talk!
    – Taylor

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