Trendy American evangelicals have made salvation one thing altogether completely different than discipleship. This was true of the sort of evangelicalism that nurtured my religion in my teenagers and twenties. Billy Graham–model evangelism and Campus Campaign’s “Four Spiritual Laws” formed the way in which I imagined evangelism. As I understood it, my position was to bear witness to Jesus in cooperation with the Holy Spirit who would convict folks of the reality. Collectively we might work towards the objective of “getting people saved.” As soon as they have been “saved,” we might make ideas relating to subsequent steps. With a fistful of yellow “Four Spiritual Laws” booklets, my objective was to plunder hell and populate heaven. However in my expertise these diversified types of follow-up usually didn’t produce wholesome flourishing disciples. Years later I might come to understand this technique of evangelism wasn’t what Jesus had referred to as us to do.
Jesus didn’t say, “Go into all of the world and get folks saved.” He didn’t say, “Get people to ask me into their hearts.” He didn’t say, “Go make good citizens of the empire.” Jesus mentioned, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). His phrases conveyed a transparent command: Go into each individual’s world and invite folks to develop into followers of Jesus. We’re not referred to as to govern folks into making a choice. The best way of Jesus is the way in which of invitation, not the way in which of manipulation. The fixed name of Jesus wasn’t “ask me into your heart,” however “come follow me.” The query we ask isn’t when did we “get saved,” however when did we begin taking part within the lifetime of salvation? Trustworthy followers of Jesus will make good residents as a result of Jesus teaches us to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” (Matthew 22:21). Nevertheless, making good residents isn’t the first activity of the church.
We come to Jesus with the intention to observe him as a result of salvation isn’t discovered by asking Jesus into our lives, however by coming into the lifetime of Jesus the place, as disciples, we discover ourselves immersed in God’s rescue plan. A lot of the language within the New Testomony is about our expertise “in Christ.” We enter into the lifetime of Jesus greater than Jesus enters our lives. If we go about asking Jesus into our hearts then it turns into simple for Jesus to develop into a personality within the one-act play referred to as “Me.” A greater means of speaking about salvation is to speak about coming to Jesus and following him with the intention to stroll in his methods by coming into into his life. On this means, salvation and discipleship are way more intertwined.
The best way of Jesus is the way in which to life, actual life, actual human life, the great life we’ve got all innately longed for. Jesus mentioned, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). All of us need the life Jesus gives, even when we can not utterly articulate it. The lifetime of Jesus is the water that may quench our deepest thirst and the bread that may fulfill our deepest needs. Jesus is the residing water and the bread of life. Sadly, far too many individuals have assumed all that’s essential to expertise that life is to admit the reality about Jesus. They’ve been informed, “Pray this prayer. Say these words. Acknowledge this truth about Jesus. That’s it. Do these things and you will experience eternal life.” The issue is that folks confess the Jesus reality and once they don’t expertise the Jesus life, they get annoyed and quit on the religion. What they’re lacking is the very factor Jesus referred to as us to do. They’re annoyed as a result of they haven’t but realized to stroll in Jesus’ methods as disciples.
Confessing the reality about Jesus features a sort of allegiance to Jesus. After we confess that we imagine Jesus is Lord and Savior, we’re trusting Jesus alone to steer us and to save lots of us. Confessing the Jesus reality is what will get us into what Jesus is doing. Strolling within the Jesus means retains us in. We’d like each. As Eugene Peterson noticed, “The Jesus way wedded to the Jesus truth brings about the Jesus life. We can’t proclaim the Jesus truth but then do it any old way we like. Nor can we follow the Jesus way without speaking the Jesus truth.” Genuine disciples can not cling to the reality about Jesus whereas avoiding the way in which of Jesus. The Jesus reality plus the Jesus means equals the Jesus life.
The Jesus reality is that he’s God’s Son and our Lord. Jesus may be very God of very God, exhibiting us what God is like. Jesus is equally our Lord, a relatively archaic means of talking of an individual with authority. Our British neighbors throughout the Atlantic have a Home of Lords and so maybe the title “Lord” nonetheless carries which means for them. For People the one time we use the world lord is after we are speaking a couple of landlord. These of us who’ve rented a home or condo perceive what a landlord is. My spouse and I rented for the primary 5 years we have been married, two homes and one condo. After we have been within the final home we rented, Jenni wished to hold a wallpaper border within the kitchen. As a lot as we wished so as to add some colour within the kitchen, we couldn’t with out the permission of the owner. If we wished to color the partitions, we couldn’t apply one drop of paint with out permission as a result of the partitions of that home didn’t belong to us. They belonged to the owner. After we confess the reality that Jesus is Lord, we’re confessing that our lives now not belong to us. They belong to Jesus. We simply reside right here. Jesus now owns the best to our lives.
Confessing the Jesus reality isn’t sufficient to expertise the Jesus life. We should additionally stroll within the Jesus means. Paul’s phrases are clear: “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith” (Colossians 2:6-7). Jesus is the way in which to be actually and totally human, as a result of Jesus is totally human. We have been created by God as human beings to bear God’s picture, to replicate God’s picture into creation, and to replicate creation’s reward again to God. Sin twists us out of form, in order that we replicate a damaged picture. The best way of Jesus is the way in which to be totally alive and thus totally human. The best way of Jesus has been laid out for us within the Sermon on the Mount. It’s the means of forgiveness, peace, and reconciling love. It’s the radical means of reality, faithfulness, and enemy-love; the way in which of prayer, religion, and self-giving love. Not solely will we expertise the Jesus life after we stroll within the Jesus means; we additionally develop into the means by which God is rescuing the world.
If we’re going to make disciples, then we should begin by turning into disciples ourselves. So ask your self, “Do I want to follow Jesus?” Ultimately all of us do what we need to do. So do you need to observe Jesus? Possibly you might be scuffling with that need. Possibly you recognize intellectually that you just should observe Jesus, however your needs are headed in a distinct course. That’s okay. You possibly can ask for God the Holy Spirit to alter your needs, in order that your should turns into your need to. So what do you need to do? When blind Bartimaeus stood earlier than Jesus his want was clear, however Jesus nonetheless requested, “What do you want me to do for you?” On this second, Jesus is asking you, “What do you want? Do you want to follow me, confessing my truth, walking in my ways, and experiencing my life?” In case your reply is sure, then be a part of us on this journey of turning into a disciple of Jesus.
Excerpted from By the Means: Getting Critical about Following Jesus by Derek Vreeland (Herald Press, 2019). All rights reserved. Used with permission. HeraldPress.com