One of the things that I adore most about the holidays is that my sons come home for some of the time! Devon's here from North Carolina, so Daniel came over yesterday to spend time with him and stayed for dinner so we all got some time together.
During dinner Daniel was sharing about a Bible study that a friend has invited him to that he's gone to a couple of times. He shared that they wanted to put him through this 9-week course with them so he said sure since he wants to have a regular time in his life when he digs into the Word with others of like faith. But then he told me that he started to become uncomfortable because they keep emphasizing "discipleship" and saying that others aren't "real" Christians unless they are making disciples. They asked if he felt like he's a real Christian and he said yes; then they went through a study and asked if he still did (in light of the fact that he's not "making disciples" in the way they define it) and he still said yes. He knows that his salvation and the "realness" of his Christianity are based on Jesus and God's grace extended to him through Jesus, not on any actions of his own. He told me that he gets that the Word tells him to go make disciples, but that he's not comfortable with the way they are talking.
Daniel wants everything in his life to be based on what the Word says. He kind of knows that what these people are saying isn't right, but he wanted some help with where the Bible says what that relates to this. So this morning I wanted to spend some time in the Word and find some scriptures to share with him, and these are a few that I quickly came up with:
This passage makes it so clear that there's no Jesus plus anything; it's all about God's work for us through Jesus that brings us into relationship with Him and makes us right.
How much more clear can we get? The only work that God requires is that we believe, have faith, in Jesus. It's all about our trust in Him, not in ourselves and our works.
Our works do not make us right with God, our choice to accept and believe in Jesus' work does.
Now this one's interesting because it speaks to how it is by His grace alone that we're saved, and that the ability to believe in Him is even a gift from Him, but it also brings up the works topic. It states that He created us to do good works. So He has plans for us to be about doing good, but it's not the doing good that brings us into right relationship with Him-that's pure grace.
This is a situation where some people wanted to put some scripture based requirements on the followers of Christ and they are told that the only way one is saved is through faith in Christ.
What I find myself wanting to emphasize is that the more I come to understand on a deep, experiential, level the grace of God, the more I want my life to be filled with doing good things, the more I want to be obedient in every area. So, it's only His grace that saves me, and then it's the Holy Spirit's power within me that gives me the power to live His kind of lifestyle.
I don't know about what these folks Daniel's met mean by "discipleship", but I do know that I believe our current church culture in America does not seem to focus enough on relationship. I don't see the focus on coming along side of others and mentoring them in their faith. But I do see so much of this in the apostle Paul's example in the Word, and I do think our lives should be filled with relationship, and helping others in their faith in the ways God's gifted us to do that. However, this is not some kind of litmus test for "realness" of Christianity.
What about you, do you have any thoughts on this? I'd be interested in what others have to say on this topic.