What is Discipleship?

Jeff Vandersveldt

 discipleship leading people to increasingly submit all of life to the empowering lordship and presence of Jesus Christ. 


a disciple as one who desires to worship Jesus in all of life, is increasingly being changed by Jesus to obey him in all of life, and leads and teaches others to do the same

The Gospel saves us totally

Jared C. Wilson “Gospel Deeps” , 41-42

If the gospel (the Good news of the life and work of Jesus Christ) is not the ABCs of the Christian life but the A to Z, we can expect that the gospel is for all of life, not just the moment of conversion.  The gospel’s saving work is deep work.  It is deep tissue massage, spiritual reparative therapy, and radial reconstructive surgery.  

The gospel forgives our sins once for all. It gives us a new identity.  It secures us citizenship in heaven and the hope of eternal life.  Once believed, it is the grounds for our justification; thereafter believed, it is the power of our sanctification; finally believed, it results in our glorification.  If we believe in the gospel, we are saved from the curse of the law, the condemnation of wrath, and the consequence of hell.  If we believe in the gospel, we receive all that Jesus is for all that we are.  All of this comes from what Christ has done.  

Hebrews 7:25 tells us “consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”  The author of Hebrews makes it a point to let us know that while the old covenant required repeated sacrifices for repeated sins, the new covenant is a better one because Jesus is its guarantor (7:22), and he has offered himself as a sacrifice once for all (7:27).  

God promises in the gospel to begin a work in us and then finish it.  And we will be as saved as Christ’s atoning work was perfect, which is to say ” totally”.

The Protestant Reformation

In 2017 we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.  October 31, 1517 is the generally accepted beginning of the protestant movement and renewal of the true church, when humble men and women Re-formed their lives worship and the church based upon The Gospel of Jesus Christ.  All the Reformation gains were summarized by what we call the Five Solas. 

We believe in grace alone (Sola Gratia) Grace alone; this is directly opposed to the default religion of our age—where I must work for my salvation, either through direct sacrament, being a good citizen, or through becoming a positive person. Our sin is so offensive to God and debilitating to us that Grace is the only solution to Peace with God.  The only salvation from Hell, which all humanity deserves, comes through grace alone.  Salvation belongs to the Lord and it is his pleasure to grant it to individuals. Grace is an un-sought, undeserved gift from Holy God to Sinful man.

We believe in Faith Alone (Sola Fide)—God gives us faith.  We receive the message and content of the Gospel through faith alone.  Faith is putting all the loyalty of our life upon God for the salvation He promises.  Our faith is not in ourselves, nor in our pastors, nor even the church for salvation: but in God alone. 

We believe salvation comes through Christ alone (Solus Christus)—The object of God’s grace and our faith is the Lord Jesus Christ only, not Jesus plus anything else. God’s Messiah entered into human history one time for the hope and salvation of sinners.  The obedience of Christ earned our place in eternity. Our sins and their penalty, the judgment of God and the anger of God, were transferred to Him at Calvary. His entire life was a fragrant aroma to God, the complete and only sacrifice acceptable to Holy God.  The person and work of Jesus Christ provides our only hope for eternal blessings from God, and not curse in hell eternal.  

We believe this according to Scripture alone (Sola Scriptura)—We reject any other authorities which contradict God’s Word as alternatives or additions for our spiritual life and godliness.  God’s speaks through His written Word, it is both our authority and it is sufficient.  Ours is the age of autonomy and gurus; Enter Sola Scriptura. The Bible Alone: This gives us peace.   We don’t need Jesus Calling, heaven tourism books or the Shack to give us new revelations from God.  We don’t need 23 steps to a better you or to travel on a Spiritual Mecca to the woods to hear from God. These give no true assurance, they only replace God’s Word with a wimpy, American alternative.  We don’t need entertainment, we don’t need therapy. God doesn’t need help from us in this age. We need the Gospel, and It‘s power is imparted by the Holy Spirit through the Bible Alone.  Romans 10:17 declares: Faith comes by hearing, and hearing the Word of God.

We believe all of Life is to the Glory of God alone (Soli deo Gloria)—God is our King.  He is our Savior and our Lord.  He alone gets the credit.  No one can claim salvation if they will not submit to His will over their live.  All life is to Him.  This gives His people great purpose.  From sinners to saints, through faith in Jesus Christ, now living for God’s glory and praise, in gratitude and continual repentance.  Sola Dei Gloria also reminds us that our redemption isn’t fully known or complete until we worship God as King and Christ as Redeemer together in the New Heavens and New Earth.   

Put your trust today in Christ alone.  Believe this above all.  We are an eternal people.  We will all face God one day, all of us, when our future will be eternal Heaven or Hell. Repent of using God for your glory and live for His pleasure.  Seek his will above all.  Receive Grace alone in Christ alone.  You cannot earn it; He gives it freely to those who trust Him. 

Oh, perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,
To every believer the promise of God;
The vilest offender who truly believes,
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
  Let the earth hear His voice;
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
  Let the people rejoice;
Oh, come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
  And give Him the glory; great things He hath done.

The Nature of Faith

AW Pink  But let it be said very emphatically that the heart can only rest upon and enjoy the blessed truth of the absolute Sovereignty of God as faith is in exercise. Faith is ever occupied with God. That is the character of it; that is what differentiates it from intellectual theology. Faith endures “as seeing Him who is invisible” (Heb. 11:27): endures the disappointments, the hardships, and the heartaches of life by recognizing that all comes from the hand of Him who is too wise to err and too loving to be unkind. But so long as we are occupied with any other object than God Himself there will be neither rest for the heart nor peace for the mind. But when we receive all that enters our lives as from His hand, then, no matter what may be our circumstances or surroundings-whether in a hovel, a prison-dungeon, or a martyr’s stake-we shall be enabled to say, “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places” (Psa. 16:6). But that is the language of faith, not of sight or of sense.

Focusing on the Light

Thomas Brooks:  Remedies for division amongst God’s people.  

Grace is the choicest flower in all a Christian’s garden. It is the richest jewel in all his crown. It is his princely robes. It is the top of royalty. Therefore, [grace] must necessarily be the most pleasing, sweet, and delightful object for a gracious eye to be fixed upon. Sin is darkness; grace is light. Sin is hell; grace is heaven. And what madness it is to look more at darkness than at light, more at hell than at heaven!

Tell me, saints, doth not God look more upon His people’s graces than upon their weaknesses? Surely He doth. He looks more at David’s and Asaph’s uprightness than upon their infirmities, though they were great and many. He eyes more Job’s patience than his passion. “Ye have heard of the patience of Job” (Jam 5:11)—[but] not a word of his impatience. He that drew Alexander7 whilst he had a scar upon his face, drew him with his finger upon the scar. God puts His fingers upon His people’s scars that no blemish may appear. Ah, saints! That you would make it the top of your glory in this: to be like your heavenly Father. By so doing, much sin would be prevented, the designs of wicked men frustrated, Satan outwitted, many wounds healed, many sad hearts cheered, and God more abundantly honored.

Walking in the light

Our Text for this coming Lord’s Day (June 18)  is Ephesians 5:3-8, 

in V 8 notice the call to turn from Sin and, (not to perfectionism, legalism, sin-lessness), but, turning from sin we turn and imitate God; we walk in the light. 

This is the joy and revealed mystery of the church, God’s people—We get to walk in the light together,  not darkness, nor the shadows of half-religion/almost Christianity; but in humility and honest repentance before God, we imitate God walking with one another.

My companions are those who fear the Lord, Psalms 119:63. Over the years, my closest friends are not those whom I have most socially in common with, nor even those whom I have the most affinity for, but those which whom I have walked in the light with.  This is true fellowship and friendship.  

I John 1:1-7  That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life–  (2)  the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us–  (3)  that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.  (4)  And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.  (5)  This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  (6)  If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  (7)  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

The Doctrine of Adoption

Ephesians 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.

John Murray: Adoption, as the term closely implies, is an act of transfer from an alien family into the family of God himself.  This is surely the apex of grace and privilege

Donald Grey Barnhouse:  the Christian is far more than a guest with God. 

Thomas Watson:  God has made his children, by adoption, nearer to himself than the angels.  The angels are the friends of Christ; believers are his members. 

JI Packer: Our first point about adoption is that it is the highest privilege that the gospel offers. In adoption, God takes us into his family and fellowship—he establishes us as his children and heirs. Closeness, affection and generosity are at the heart of the relationship. To be right with God the Judge [justification] is a great thing, but to be loved and cared for by God the Father [adoption] is a greater.

Thomas Watson:  Since God has a Son of his own, and such a Son, how wonderful God’s love in adopting us!  We needed a Father, but He did not need sons.

 John Calvin:  We can only begin an upright course of life when God, of his good pleasure, adopts us into his family.