What is true discipleship?

Abiding in the Gospel is the True Discipleship

True discipleship involves abiding in the Gospel, and not being moved away from it. The Gospel sets our heart into agreement with Christ, and creates an atmosphere full of thanksgiving, where He is able to settle down and make His home in our heart. We abide in Him, and He abides in us. Discipleship in the New Testament, after the resurrection of Christ, is not arduous, nor is it about following a legalistic set of rules. Rather it is about understanding and trusting in Christ as our righteousness, sanctification, and reward and growing in the knowledge that He is everything and does everything in the Christian life. Discipleship is based on a mystery that was not revealed until after the resurrection of Christ, which is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27)

In the synoptic gospels, discipleship is presented as an impossible demand, because no one can match Him, and no one can imitate Him, and no one can truly follow Him in the flesh. That kind of discipleship of following Jesus as if He is something separate from you, the way the disciples were instructed to do during His earthly ministry, is designed to bring you to despair, as you consider the difference between your fallen humanity and His matchless virtue. All of the disciples failed, and this was their “discipleship” and their “training.” (Matthew 5:48)

But in John, which is a book for the Church, focused on the mystery that now because of the Spirit, Christ dwells in us, the command is not to take up the cross and count the cost and deny the self and hate all and follow Him. Instead, it is to drink the living water, to come to Him and believe and drink, and to grow in the knowledge of the truth concerning the Eternal Life, which is Christ Himself, and let that truth make you free. Discipleship in resurrection does not burden, you it sets you free! In fact, after the book of Acts we no longer see the word, “disciple” in any of the epistles. Rather we see believer, and member, because by believing in Him, we have been made part of Him, “bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh.” (John 4:14, John 7:37-38, John 8:32, 1 Corinthians 12:27)

True discipleship also manifests in loving one another. To love one another means that we recognize our fellow believers as sons and daughters of God. The Gospel is the source and foundation of true discipleship, and through it, we bear fruit and become fully assured in our relationship with Christ. (John 13:34-35, 1 John 3:1)

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” – John 15:4

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” – Romans 1:16

Trusting in Christ

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9

“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.” – Romans 3:21-22

Loving Others

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” – Ephesians 2:19

On Loving others:  Many people get tripped up with this one, because they think if they are agitated with someone, or if they are being manipulated and gaslighted by a wolf that claims to be a brother, they are are not “loving’ and therefore might not even be saved.  But 1 John tells us the definition of love.  It is simply a matter of acknowledging our brothers by the testimony, and it is the same as believing the Gospel. Because we believe that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead for our justification, we know that those who are born of God are those who believe this.  We know that this is how we determine whether or not someone is our brother, by their faith, not by their works.  We love the brethren, and we are not like Cain, who refused to acknowledge God’s acceptance of Abel, because he had a basic problem with the way God accepts sinners.  He tried to be accepted on the basis of his toil, and was rejected, and hated Abel because Abel was accepted on the basis of blood.  This infuriated him because he rejects the Gospel.  As believers in the Gospel, we love the brethren and recognize those who are His.

Keywords: discipleship, Gospel, Christ, righteousness, sanctification, reward, love, sonship, assurance

OUTLINE

I. True discipleship involves abiding in the Gospel and allowing it to work in and through us.

  • “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” – John 15:4

  • “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” – Romans 1:16

II. True discipleship is not about following a legalistic set of rules, but rather about understanding and trusting in Christ as our righteousness, sanctification, and reward.

  • “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9

  • “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.” – Romans 3:21-22

III. True discipleship involves loving one another and recognizing our fellow believers as sons and daughters of God.

  • “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35

  • “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” – Ephesians 2:19

IV. The Gospel is the source and foundation of true discipleship, and through it, we bear fruit and become fully assured in our relationship with Christ.

  • “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” – Romans 1:16

  • “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1:6


 

 

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