Friday, November 18, 2005

Spirit-led disciples

What follows is a continuation (part II) of my personal, family and, Lord willing, eventual church vision statement. Not counting the insights to be incorporated from people's comments (like Jason Kovacs):

Discipleship is the realization of missions and is the outworking of the Great Commission. Discipleship exists in order to gather in, equip, and mature worshipers from every tribe, tongue, and nation (Rev 5:9, 7:9). One day discipleship will no longer be necessary as the countless numbers of redeemed and glorified saints fall down on their faces, casting their crowns at the feet of King Jesus. Sanctification will be complete and sin will be no more. Discipleship is a temporary necessity; worship will last forever. However, until the last of Christ's sheep are gathered in, according to the Great Commission, discipleship will continue among all the nations (Mt 28.18-20). Therefore, discipleship is the main work of the church and the means by which God has freely chosen to advance His kingdom and glory on the earth. We aim to do this by making disciples and not merely converts in America and beyond.

Spirit-led disciples are not a special tier of mature Christians. Every person that has called upon Christ for his or her redemption has been filled with God’s Spirit (Eph 1.13-14). As a result, every Christian is a “Spirit-filled” disciple. However, as Spirit-filled disciples we should seek a continual filling, refreshing and renewal of the power of God’s Spirit (Eph 5.18). What then, does a Spirit-led disciple look like? A Spirit-led disciple seeks this filling for Christ-imitating living. He attempts to follow the Spirit-wherever he leads, in private and in public, bearing the fruit of the Spirit- love, joy, peace, patience, etc (Gal 5.22-23). A Spirit-led disciple is fruitful not only in intangible character but in tangible life decisions. As people indwelt with the very presence of God, our lives are to be marked by a radical God-centeredness. Whatever we do, in work, witness, and leisure, we should seek to glorify God by following the Spirit. Our “Spirit-filled” character should spill over into a Spirit-led life in which we labor and leisure in a way that honors God.

3 Comments:

At 1:37 PM , Anonymous Jason said...

Thanks for sharing with us and allowing us to respond. I am really enjoying thinking through your thoughts it is helping me to process my understanding of my mission.

I am pretty sure that I don’t agree with you that discipleship is a temporary necessity that will no longer be necessary once God fully establishes his kingdom and we are able to worship as glorified saints. A couple of questions for clarification: are you suggesting that being a disciple will be no longer necessary because of our glorification; are you suggesting that discipleship is process that assists in our maturing as disciples and the process itself will no longer be necessary; or am I misunderstanding you all together?

It seems that being a disciple is more closely tied to a (the) way of living that we are called to because we are new creations in Christ than it is a process to just help us become mature glorified worshipers. I think of Jesus statement in Luke 6:40 regarding becoming like the teacher. We must understand that what it means to be a disciple, is tied with being those who accurately reflect the image of Christ which connects us to the original intended creation purpose and function of reflecting God (A disciple is one who reflects accurately Christ). A couple of things that God is doing in redemption are removing the sin that separates us as well as filling us with the Spirit, which empowers us to live the way of life (live as disciples) that accurately reflects him in his creation.

When I think of discipleship in this context, as being a (the) way of living that rightly reflects Christ to his creation, there are a couple of things that can be said. Discipleship is a process that we are involved in that helps us be more accurate image reflectors (This aspect I can see no longer being needed). Discipleship is also the things we do, the way we live, that demonstrates God in Christ who we reflect (This will continue on once we have been glorified and God has restored his creation and we live in faith, trust and obedience reflecting clearly and fully his image.

Just some thoughts.
Jason

 
At 2:16 PM , Blogger Jonathan Dodson said...

some good points, jason. iron sharpens wood. I should say up front that i wanted to write much more here, which would have perhaps clarified the points you raise, but i opted for brevity.

I belive the section you are referring to is: "One day discipleship will no longer be necessary as the countless numbers of redeemed and glorified saints fall down on their faces, casting their crowns at the feet of King Jesus. Sanctification will be complete and sin will be no more. Discipleship is a temporary necessity; worship will last forever."

In the quote above, glorification preceeds the statement on the temporality of discipleship. In other words, glorification will result in no longer needing to be "discipled." The question you raise is an important one. In what sense will we no longer be discipled? You are correct in saying that, in a sense, our discipleship does not cease. Yes, we will always be image-bearers. In fact, we always be learners/disciples who will grow, not in sanctification, but in our love for and understandig of God. To pick up on your language, the product of discipleship will remain forever, while the process will not, particularly the process aimed at removing our unbelief and unwillingness to follow Jesus. As you noted, discipleship entails the removal of sin and the filling of the Spirit, both of which will not be necessary in the NH&E, since we will see Him and be just like he is (1 jn 3.2). Along these lines, I have in mind texts like:

Col 1.28:
"We proclaim Him, admonsishin every man and teachie every man with all wisdom,s othat we may presen every man colete i Chrsit."

Col 3.4: (1 thes 5.23; Rom 8.30;)
"When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory."

Just as Christ does not require discipleship, so we will not. However, in the NH&E everyone will be "taught of God" (Jn )6.45 cf. Isa 54,13. Discipleship with a lower case "d" will cease but discipleship with an uppercase "D" will remain and continue!

 
At 2:44 PM , Blogger Josh said...

Great thoughts on discipleship. I thought of Edwards (The End for which God Created the World) the more you and Jason talked about the implications that glorification will have on discipleship:

"There are many reasons to think that what God has in view, in an increasing communication of himself through eternity, is an increasing knowledge of God, love to him, and joy in him."

"The image is more and more perfect, and so the good that is in the creature comes forever nearer and nearer to an identity with that which is in God. In the view therefore of God, who has a comprehnsive prospect of the increasing union oand conformity through eternity, it must be an infinitely strict and perfect nearness, conformity, and oneness."

(God's Passion for His Glory, Piper, 159-160)

According to Edwards, eternity will not be static, and yet we will be glorified!?! I think this is what you meant by "we will always be learners/disciples who will grow, not in sanctification, but in our love for and understandig of God."

 

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