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Discipleship (Part 4)

I’ve never been in the back of the room at a church meeting, but I can almost see it. “Hey,” they say, “How are we going to get people saved? We’ve got to figure out how to get them to say the prayers.”

I think we’re used to thinking in terms of numbers. It’s only human to play the numbers game. I mean, think about it. In the baseball world, or anywhere in sports, the concept is, “How many fans can we get in the seats?” After all, that’s where the business is. And so we see it in the churches. “How many butts can we get in the pews?” After all, there’s our tithe.

And you see that a lot, man! You see churches saying, “Fifty people got saved today!” Or, “One hundred people got saved today!” But being a Christian is a lifestyle that we live, not a decision that we make. It doesn’t end with being saved. That’s where it starts. We should be asking, “How are we going to get people to live a life of Jesus?” That’s the concept, because that is joy. That is true joy.

Too often someone will say they’re a Christian because at some point in their life they said, “Oh, I believe Jesus is Lord.” They made that decision at some moment in time. But how does it affect their lifestyle throughout the next 30, 50, or 70 years of life? It doesn’t. I think that’s why you see Christian marriages failing at the same rate that you see non-Christian marriages failing. Using this type of salvation theology, Christianity is not a lifestyle that people live. It’s just a decision they made.

Confessing that Jesus is Lord is not what makes you a Christian. No, no. Confessing that Jesus is Lord is what says that you’re saved. Yes, congratulations, you admitted that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for your sins and rose again three days later. The resurrection is what empowers you. It gets you the salvation that you’re looking for. Justification by faith, great, that says you’re in the family of God. That means you’re justified. But justification by faith does not fulfill you.

The life of Jesus is a life of discipleship. A disciple of Jesus is someone that lives this life by living as Jesus lived. Scot McKnight expands on these exact same concepts in his latest book, The King Jesus Gospel. McKnight writes that if you end by confessing that Jesus is Lord, you’re not going to feel fulfilled in this life.

If being saved, justified by faith, was the whole of Christianity, then the world would be a completely different place. In the Psalms it says that the King’s throne is made up of justice and righteousness. If salvation is all that’s needed, then Christians would all live a life of justice and righteousness, by virtue of being saved. And we don’t do that very well. You can see that. Not all of us have that mentality.

If the life of a Christian began and ended with confessing that Jesus is Lord, then love and mercy and grace would be lived out through all Christians everywhere. Salvation alone would make us God’s instruments of love and of mercy and of grace. That decision we made to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior would be enough. We wouldn’t have to do anything else.

But we don’t love very easily. We don’t do that. We don’t show much mercy. In fact, McKnight talked to a number of non-Christians and found that they’ll tell you sometimes Christians are the meanest people they’ve ever met!

So it can’t just be justification and salvation that makes us different. I believe it is a Spirit-led lifestyle. If you feel empty, like you can’t accomplish something in life, it’s because you don’t understand why you’re here. I believe it is the lifestyle of Jesus that helps us understand. See you Friday.

4 thoughts on “Discipleship (Part 4)

  1. I can’t agree more! I worked for a church for almost three years, and I can’t begin to explain how frustrating it became when all that was focused on were numbers. I could see past those numbers to know that the true goal we should have our eyes on is discipling those at our church (both new members, as well as members that had been with us for 40+ years). It is those relationships that help people grow in Christ, and when we shift our focus there and away from the numbers, that we will truly begin to see a body of Christ truly thriving in Him.

  2. Jeremy you have a lot of insight for a young man! :-) To me you are young, to my kids you’d be a peer, but to my grandkids you would be old!
    It’s interesting, so many think a confession of faith is all you need to do, or just go to church to be a Christian but really you’ve nailed it, it’s a Spirit-led life. The Holy Spirit is definitely going to encourage us to be mature in the faith. Now I hope no one misunderstands, the work of salvation was done at the cross and we are “complete in Him” (Col 2:10), it’s a free gift to all who call on the name of the Lord. But we’ve been called to do good works. I love the verses in 2 Peter 1:3-11 that gives instruction to “add to our faith….” “so that we will neither be barren nor unfruitful” (Hope you’ll read it in context)
    This walk takes discipline, just like keeping in shape for the new season coming up!

    However, we have to be very careful not to say someone is not saved just because they are living carnally (Paul had to deal with that a lot and wrote to correct carnal Christians, as did James, Peter and John) and remember that the Lord will chasten those He loves. Not a fun place to be at!
    As far as the back room… dh is a pastor and at the meetings we don’t talk about numbers or money, that’s in God’s hands and He is faithful! But we do talk about the upkeep of the building, missions, needy, outreaches, etc. Just thought you’d like to know ;-)

  3. When church becomes all about numbers, whether that be the number of buildings, the number on the membership roster, or the number of dollars in the bank account, it ceases to be a church. The church is a body of believers who have obeyed the Gospel, confessed that Jesus is Lord, been baptized, and strive to lead a Christian life. I say strive because as humans, we all fail to be perfect like Jesus. It’s the trying over and over again to live a Christian life that makes Christians different. So many people profess to be “Christian”, then go out and use the foulest of language, treat others horribly, and figure that as long as their butt is in the pew on Sunday morning, it’s all okay. They hide behind their “shield” of being a Christian. But that isn’t what the Bible teaches us. It clearly tells us to be the best we can be, serve God by being a servant to others, treat others the way we ourselves want to be treated and continue to do so even when we are not treated that way, honor God with the words we choose to say. Being a Christian and living a Christian life is hard work. We each have to decide if we are willing to make the effort it takes.

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