Why Bother With Discipleship?

I recently read a great article by Dallas Willard regarding the issue of discipleship. He challenges the modern idea that we can be “vampire Christians” like saying to Jesus… I’d like a little of Your blood, please, for salvation, but I do not care to be your student or to develop Your character. In fact, just let me live my life and I’ll see you in heaven. Willard quotes A. W. Tozer, that salvation apart from obedience is unknown in the sacred Scriptures.

He stresses the importance of becoming an apprentice of Jesus, mainly to avoid the practice of sin, and that it is by spiritual transformation that the “cup becomes clean on the inside” and the “tree will bear good fruit.” This is far from assenting to a list of propositions regarding the Christian faith. Walking with Jesus in discipleship is the only way to exercise a power that is beyond us in dealing with problems and evils that afflict our earthly existence.

He ends the article with this quote:

But, someone will say, can I not be saved–get into heaven when I die–without any of this? Perhaps you can. God’s goodness is so great, I am sure, that He will let you in if He can find any basis at all to do so. But you might wish to think about what your life amounts to before you die, about what kind of person you are becoming, and whether you really would be comfortable for eternity in the presence of one whose company you have not found especially desirable for the few hours and days of earthly existence. And he is, after all, One who says to you now, “Follow me!”

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Missions and Worship

I was reminded of a fascinating book by John Piper called, Let the Nations Be Glad: The Supremacy of God in Missions. He begins this intriguing book discussing the relationship between missions and worship, two topics very dear to my heart.  

 

Piper says, “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever. Worship, therefore, is the fuel and goal in missions.” 

He goes on to say that it’s the goal of missions because in missions we simply aim to bring the nations into the enjoyment of God’s glory. The goal of missions is the gladness of the peoples in the greatness of God. (Psalm 67:3-4). 

“But worship is also the fuel of missions. Passion for God in worship precedes the offer of God in preaching. You can’t commend what you don’t cherish. (Psalm 104:34; 9:2). Missions begins and ends in worship.”  

Piper concludes his chapter one introduction with, “Where passion for God is weak, zeal for missions will be weak. Churches that are not centered on the exaltation of the majesty and beauty of God will scarcely kindle a fervent desire to ‘declare his glory among the nations’ (Psalm 96:3). Even outsiders feel the disparity between the boldness of our claim upon the nations and the blandness of our engagement with God.”  

 

I understand his point, but I suppose it is also possible to have little zeal for God in worship and still be a congregation focused on missions, perhaps as a substitute for a dynamic relationship with Jesus. This type of missions may be more helping the less-fortunate than it is bringing the nations and our neighbors to Christ. 

 

In corporate worship, how do we encounter God (how do we even encounter God on a personal level)? Can it be that the modern church in America has settled for a worship service over an authentic worship experience, whereby the congregation is connected with God at the deepest level? When was the last time that you saw God’s people gathered for worship where they were passionate about experiencing God (as opposed to being excited about fellowship with others, love for the music, praise for the preacher, etc.)? If God is truly the audience of our worship, what sort of performance did we put on last Sunday? Was He pleased?

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Your Personal Mission Statement

National best-selling author, Laurie Beth Jones, in her book, The Path: creating your mission statement for work and for life, wrote about an incident in WWII where an unidentified soldier suddenly appeared in the dark and could not state his mission… he was automatically shot without question. She wonders what would happen if we reinforce that policy today. 

 

I suppose being confronted with life and death would force us to reexamine who we are and what we are really about. People leading unfulfilled lives would burst forth with possibility and power. Our mission statement is in essence our written-down reason for existing. This is the key to finding your path in life and identifying the mission you choose to follow.  

 

Jesus had a mission statement. “I have come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10) or perhaps, “I have come to seek and to save those who are lost.” (Luke 19:10). So, every activity he understood was a result of that mission statement.  

 

Laurie Beth goes on to give three guidelines in developing a personal mission statement:

  1. It should be no more than a single sentence in length
  2. It must be easily understood by a twelve year old
  3. You should be able to recite it by memory at gunpoint

 

Abraham Lincoln’s mission was to preserve the Union; FDR’s mission was to end the Depression; Nelson Mandela’s mission was to end apartheid; Mother Teresa’s mission was to show mercy and compassion to the dying; Joan of Arc’s mission was to save France; Nehemiah’s mission was to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Forgetting one’s mission leads to getting tangled up in details that will take you completely off your path. 

 

My mission statement? To know Christ and make Him known. It’s not an astounding treatise or even original. But I get my mission statement from Mark 3:14, where Jesus called His disciples to first be with Him, and then He sent them out to preach the gospel.  My challenge to you is to seriously consider why you exist on this planet, or where you live at this time in history. How will you impact eternity for those around you? Focus on your mission so you do not get distracted.

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Differing Theology

A friend of mine put this together years ago. I like the comparison because it allows me to see how one group within the body of Christ might see Christianity quite different from another. For an example, one person might feel he or she will strut into heaven wearing their golden crown all ready to rule and reign with Christ, while another would come before our resurrected Savior, bowing in humility ready to cast any golden crown at his nail-scarred feet.

Theology of The Cross

Suffering Servant

Human Free Will

Divine Self-limitation: God guides and Sustains

Human Free and Responsible for Sin

Priesthood of the Believer: Separation of Church/State

Mode of Atonement: Revelation, Reconciliation

Election: Predestined All to Salvation in Christ

Biblical Authority: Dynamic Inspiration Interpreted by the Holy Spirit

Faith by Encounter

Primarily – Luther

Theology of Glory

God of Glory

Divine Sovereignty

Divine Determinacy: God is in control of events

Humans Not Free But Responsible for Sin

Theocracy

Mode: Substitution, Ransom, Redemption  

Double Predestination: Some to Bliss, Others Not

Biblical Inerrancy: Literal, Mechanical, Verbal

Faith by Assent

Primarily – Calvin

Compiled by Harold Penick, Ph.D. The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisvillle KY

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The Influence of the Bible

I found this fascinating. Listed below are quotes and testimonies of ten of history’s most outstanding people who have read and been influenced by the Bible:

  • Abraham Lincoln: “I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given man. All the good from the Savior of the world is communicated to us through this book.”  
  • George Washington: “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”  
  • Napoleon: “The Bible is no mere book, but a Living Creature, with a power that conquers all that oppose it.”  
  • Daniel Webster: “If there is anything in my thoughts or style to commend, the credit is due to my parents for instilling in me an early love of the Scriptures.” “If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering and to prosper; but if we and our posterity neglect its instructions and authority, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity.”  
  • Patrick Henry: “The Bible is worth all other books which have ever been printed.”  
  • Andrew Jackson: “That book, sir, is the rock on which our republic rests.”  
  • Robert E. Lee: “In all my perplexities and distresses the Bible has never failed to give me light and strength.”  
  • John Quincy Adams: “So great is my veneration for the Bible that the earlier my children begin to read it the more confident will be my hope that they will prove useful citizens of their country and respectable members of society.” “I have for many years made it a practice to read through the Bible once every year.”  
  • Immanuel Kant: “The existence of the Bible, as a book for the people, is the greatest benefit which the human race has ever experienced. Every attempt to belittle it is a crime against humanity.”  
  • Charles Dickens: “The New Testament is the very best book that ever was or ever will be known in the world.” 

 

From pages 17, 18. “The Gospel Standard”, Volume 44, Number 1, September 1994. Published by the “Peoples Gospel Hour”, Box 1660, Halifax, N.S. B3J 3A1.

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