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Where and how

Where you place your faith determines where you’ll spend eternity.
How you live your faith determines how you’ll spend eternity.
Don’t confuse where and how.”

I’m thinking a lot about Christian discipleship these days. I’m defining genuine or biblical discipleship (as opposed to what many people assume is discipleship) as “The process of learning to live like Christ, then actually doing it.”

I’ve never seen the above quote or definition anywhere else, so I suppose you could say that they’re mine. However, the principles that they reflect are certainly not original. This is the teaching of Scripture.

There is not a single thing we can do to earn forgiveness and salvation from God; that is his gift to mankind for all who believe (Romans 6:23). Our works / deeds / actions don’t play into it at all. Paul is clear on this:

“When the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us in full measure through Jesus Christ our Savior.” (Titus 3:4-6)

 

By grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

However, he is also clear — in the very next verse — that works / deeds / actions play a huge role after salvation.

“For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

Contrary to what some may teach, good works are not useless; they are only useless for salvation. After salvation, God has a great list of works which he wants his people to engage and accomplish during this life. There are certainly several reasons for this, but here are just two:

  1. It is our actions that point people to God the Father (Matthew 5:16) and to Jesus Christ (John 13:35)
  2. It is for our actions that God will judge us in eternity (2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 2:23)

You may be clear on the where — your faith is in Christ alone for salvation. But are you clear on how? How you live out your faith will certainly affect how you spend your eternity. Are you living your faith in a way that completely pleases and honors God — genuine, biblical discipleship?

More on this aspect to come…

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Steve Picray April 28, 2011, 5:41 am

    Daniel, if this is original to you it's one of the best ways I've heard to explain works vs salvation. Good job!

    • dgoepfrich April 28, 2011, 9:18 am

      Thanks, Steve. I don't remember having heard it exactly like this, so it could be original.

  • Michael1963 April 28, 2011, 9:15 am

    Nice! Interesting re-definition, what are you calling the act of teaching others over a period of time how to be Christlike?

    • dgoepfrich April 28, 2011, 9:22 am

      I call that … (wait for it) … "teaching"! 🙂

      We can teach people principles of discipleship until (insert your favorite comparison here), but if they don't do anything about it, i.e., live out those principles, can we really call it "discipleship"? I don't think so.

      Especially in the Gospels, I see discipleship as a process of movement closer to Christ-likeness. Teaching alone doesn't do that. In fact, in the NT economy, hearing=doing and faith=obedience. They can't really be separated.

      I'll post more on this soon. Lots of thoughts I've been processing recently. Some big things are going to start rolling out at the church in this vein.

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