The Cost of Discipleship

June 26, 2009

Undeniably, the fallen and evil state of this earth presents a potential spiritual catastrophe at any given moment. Various lusts, trials, covetousness, adultery and hatred are consistently knocking at the door of any and every believer. When one sin is overcome, another is already at the door to deceive and penetrate the feeble heart and mind of the Christian. In acknowledging the reality and effects of indwelling sin, we are more prone to evil than to good; to idolatry than to true worship. One minute we are being washed in the water of the word and the next we stumble upon a professing atheist or encounter a trial never experienced before. We are tempted to despair.

The challenge is not to simply “not sin,” but overcome evil with good. Jesus doesn’t just command us to not sin, but to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect [Matt. 5:48]. Since ideas and ideologies do not originate or consist with any human knowledge or power, perfection is defined and lies within the proposition to “be perfect.” Whether we are a disciple of Christ or an atheist, we are all commanded to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect [in the sense that repentance is commanded from everyone].

How can an utterly sinful human being “be perfect” while here on earth? The difference lies in those who are true disciples of Christ. An unbeliever of any sort cannot be perfect because he has no concept of perfection. He cannot know it. A believer, who is by grace made a disciple of Jesus Christ, has the knowledge of the true perfection of the father. Although it is greatly dimmed and perverted due to our finiteness and sin, the conception is nonetheless true. As Jesus fulfilled the law in His flesh, He is one in the same as the Father in perfection. Since Christ is the exact representation of the Father in likeness and attributes, He imputes the perfection of the Father [and Himself] to the believer by the blessed Holy Spirit.

“Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, ‘Behold, an Israelite indeed in whom is no deceit!’”[John 1:47]. Did the Savior of the world indeed proclaim Nathanael to be without sin? Jesus could have certainly drawn out indwelling sin within Nathanael, particularly from his comment, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?[v.46]” Perhaps Jesus merely made a point to Nathanael, but he was publicly revealed by Christ Himself to be His disciple. The disposition of Nathanael was such that he revered and worshiped the Christ without seeing Him until Christ revealed Himself, in the flesh. In other words, Jesus already claimed Nathanael to be His disciple before they ever met face to face. He already had communion and worshiped Jesus as the Son of God. “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel! [v. 49].” Jesus clearly revealed this to Nathanael as He reminded him about his communion with Him under the tree in faith [v. 48].

Discipleship is the sustenance of daily Christian living. It is not only discipleship with other believers that helps to crucify the flesh and all sorts of evil. But, it is communion with the Son of God Himself that even allows for discipleship with other believers. How can one confess sin to his brother when he has no ability or desire to confess to God [who ultimately forgives sin and calls disciples]? How can one “follow Christ” when he naturally follows his own lustful desires? Also, how can Jesus be your Savior if you are not even His friend? I cannot be updated on my brothers’ life if I never call him or talk to him. If I never fellowship with my friend [when I am completely available and able], then it would be difficult to conclude that he is my friend. Nevertheless, I cannot commune with my Savior if I am not confessing my sin, temptation and praying for deliverance from them. I cannot expect prayers to be answered if I never pray like He commands.

Lastly, the blessedness of being called as a disciple [follower] of Jesus Christ is an eternally unique relationship. It is not like my relationship with my brother. My brother only knows certain things about me. He only cares about certain things. It is the same with my mother and father. Although they are my parents, they can only love me as far as their flesh and understanding allows. As Creator and King, Jesus is able and willing to love and fellowship with his children according to His Sovereign Grace. He is able to bear witness wholly and completely because He was in every way tempted as we are, yet without sin.

The only love that is possible between two human beings is simply an overflow of Christ’s love for the church. That relationship is infinitely beyond a temporal relationship here on earth, which includes marriage between a man and woman [although Christian relationships are eternal]. Therefore, being a “disciple” of Christ is a public command to forsake all others and things for His sake. It is indeed to pick up our crosses and follow Him. It is a command “to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect” because it is the Cross of Calvary and the Blood of Christ that makes it possible to share in the unique and eternally blessed relationship with the Son of God that surpasses understanding.

“Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.’”
John 1:50


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