Nature of discipleship in Luke

Discussion in 'The Gospels & Acts' started by Leslie, May 25, 2008.

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  1. Leslie

    Leslie Puritan Board Junior

    In Luke, Jesus has some "hard sayings" about discipleship, making clear its radical nature. Is being a disciple equivalent to mere salvation or is being a disciple some sort of super-spiritual state that comes afterward? If it is equivalent to mere salvation, then why is there so little evidence of radical commitment in evangelical (including reformed) churches in the states (Ethiopia also, for that matter)? The lives of female churchgoers in the states are generally consumed with clothes, food, and entertainment, not sure about males. Here in Ethiopia lives are consumed with staying alive. Jesus seems to describe His disciples as totally consumed with Him. Is there any salvation aside from the state of being a disciple to which He refers? If there is no salvation aside from this, that leaves out mental-assent believers who practice obedience unto inconvenience, right?

    The passages to which I refer are Luke 6:20-26;9:23ff; 9:;57ff; 12:8-12 and 49ff, 15:25ff.
  2. etexas

    etexas Puritan Board Doctor

  3. Presbyterian Deacon

    Presbyterian Deacon Puritan Board Graduate

    We sure are eating a lot of popcorn tonight! :lol:

  4. Pilgrim's Progeny

    Pilgrim's Progeny Puritan Board Sophomore

    These texts describe the nature of a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. The Beatitudes are a portrait of Christian character. Consider:
    If these things, though feebly, do not permeate the life how can we lay any claim to heaven.
  5. etexas

    etexas Puritan Board Doctor

    Well, I do it when I want to help bump a Post that has value, but I myself have little to contribute!:):):)
  6. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Heroic Max! Eating popcorn for the edification of others.

    In answer to the original post, if we are not Christ's disciples, we are His enemies.
  7. Leslie

    Leslie Puritan Board Junior

    For Pilgrim's Progeny: Are you stating that a certain level of heart-obedience is necessary for one to consider himself as one of the elect? If so, I would agree. However, it appears that what Jesus is talking about in the hard sayings is anything but feeble; it is radical. I have seen this in the lives of only a few Ethiopians and in two Americans but then I don't know many people well. It seems to me that it almost has to be a higher spiritual state but I don't see any scriptural warrant for that.
  8. moral necessity

    moral necessity Puritan Board Junior

    How about the theif on the cross? What did he ground his assurance in?
  9. Leslie

    Leslie Puritan Board Junior

    The thief on the cross had direct revelation of his being one of the elect. Most of us have not personally heard the voice of Jesus to that effect. I see no alternative to looking at the evidence (or lack of such) of a new inner nature.
  10. moral necessity

    moral necessity Puritan Board Junior

    Just wanted to clarify that I didn't bring up that example to disagree with you, per se, but just to acknowledge that he must be considered in the mix as well, and to promote thought towards his example. I've struggled before too with what you're getting at in your post. I'm glad you're bringing up these topics. And, I do agree that inward evidence breeds assurance. Also, I do see an alternative to looking inward that I feel must be acknowledged as preeminent, and I will try to explain as I see it as appropriate and fitting to do so.

  11. Pilgrim's Progeny

    Pilgrim's Progeny Puritan Board Sophomore

    I suppose feeble does not quite match the idea I was trying to express. To be more clear, I think we work these things out in our weekness relying solely upon the grace of God. In other words, we labor hard and when it all said and done we find ourselves in our own estimation unprofitable and of feeble mind and strength. Yet, Jesus views us differently. Ask any one of the radical Christians you have meant what they think of themselves, they would say feeble or something of the like, but what will Christ say of them. Consider, the following, what did the righteous think of themselves, they ask Jesus, when did we do these things, not thinking themselves to have done such great works:
    I hope that seems more clear
  12. etexas

    etexas Puritan Board Doctor

    Tough work man, but somebody has to do it!:popcorn:
  13. Leslie

    Leslie Puritan Board Junior

    You are right; these radical Christians think little of themselves--they are totally consumed with God but they don't see it. I see a world of difference between them and other believers but they don't. For the most part they are not even verbal about their relationships with God, just content in Him and joyful in the midst of tough times. Their highest pleasures are seeing the Kingdom of God advancing.

    From the little that I've read of John Piper (too wordy), it roughly matches the besottment that he writes about. If the alternatives are this level of heart allegiance or being His enemy, that leaves most of us out. My prayers reflect this; I want Him to be my cosmic bellboy. The thief on the cross did, I think, reflect this allegiance--it was courageous of him to say what he did.
  14. JBaldwin

    JBaldwin Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    The word disciple implies that we are being taught by Christ. The heart attitude is far more important than the outward appearance. (Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.)

    I have struggled with this question on and off for most of my Christian life. I have been a believer for a very long time, and yet I still wonder how I could possibly do some of the things I do and still be Christ's. I can remember my grandmother commenting to me once, that she didn't know how I could call myself a Christian and behave the way I did (I was 9 years old at the time.) The point being that we never stop sinning, no matter how much we want to be perfect and long for holiness, the sin will not go away.

    Now back to the OP, our righteousness is found in Christ and sanctification is a process. The moment God awakens us and brings us to newness of life is the moment our sanctification and discipling begins. No wise teacher would ask a first grader to do Algebra or write a 20 page research paper, and neither will our Heavenly Father deal with every sin in our lives all at once.

    So the question to ask ourselves when we see the person caught up in clothes or money or whatever other idol is what is the person's real desire? Do we see a longing to know Christ? Do we see a desire to know Him, even if it is the tiniest desire? Are these things merely a distraction or are they that person's obsession? I've seen both. If a person even has the slightest longing to know Christ, then as believers we should come along side them and ask God to help us fan the flames of love for Christ in that person's life.
  15. Leslie

    Leslie Puritan Board Junior

    My problem with the Luke passages is that, unless Jesus is using hyperbole (and it seems dangerous to assume so), he's talking about obsession, not a tiniest desire. He's saying that we must be obsessed with Him. Yes, one must fan the flame both in self and others. I've seen this in some Ethiopians. The church in the states seems to be luke-warm compared to the church here where it's mostly stone cold but with some cases of spectacular godliness. There is one man, over 80, poor health, with a son who can and gladly would support him, but he travels all over the south of the country on foot and by public transport, to supervise evangelists in the most remote locations. The work is dangerous and most uncomfortable but the guy won't quit because "There are still some who haven't heard". There is an aura of the Spirit about this man but he doesn't seem to notice it, like the shining face of Moses. There are other examples, some of whom I've met, some gone but within living memory. In my humble opinion Jesus was not using hyperbole but was describing something that really happens. However, it is outside of the experience of most of us. Yet if this level of all-consuming obsession is requisite to salvation, how can there be "a multitude that no man can number" on the other side in heaven?
  16. JBaldwin

    JBaldwin Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I can only answer your question with the words of our Lord:

    Matthew 7:13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy [1] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

    Matthew 19:23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
  17. Leslie

    Leslie Puritan Board Junior

    How can one reconcile Jesus words that those who find the way into the kingdom are few and the picture in Revelation of the multitude that no man can number? Perhaps the contexts are different time periods, that throughout most of church history those who find the way in will be few but when He comes in glory to reign there will be a great harvest of souls.

    These passages are unsettling as regards assurance. With the human propensity for self-deception, how can one ever know?
  18. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Puritan Board Junior

    Here is another section of scripture that has some imput in the issue you raise
    These verses speak of an all encompassing view of life with each of the virtues mentioned as necessary, the fruit of the Spirit's work.:judge:
  19. moral necessity

    moral necessity Puritan Board Junior

    I agree. The human propensity for self-deception is high, which is why I think that over-scrutinizing our own apparent progress in sanctification or the lack thereof can also be discomforting and deceitful. Often, we look back on what appeared to be a sign of sanctification within us with gloom and despair, seeing our behavior as more sinful than we thought it to be in the first place. The Holy Spirit's work is often invisible to us; for even when David was failing miserably, he was actually being progressed towards a greater softening of his heart of stone. What brokenness was produced in David, and what humility towards God ensued, in Psalm 51!

    That's why, in my opinion, we must first settle the issue of our assurance by looking outward to the work and promise of Christ on our behalf. In this, we cannot be deceived very easily, for either he lied or he didn't, and either we believe his word to be true regarding our right standing with him or we don't. For, his word says that he justifies us while we are ungodly, and reconciles us to God while we are enemies (Rom.5:6-11). Entire peace with God is obtained apart from any works of the law, even works of sanctification (Gal.2:15-17,21). From the new position of being right with God, the process of sanctification is now fueled and progresses, and further assurance is attained as an addition to the foundation of assurance gained by faith in the work and promise of Christ.

    This initial foundation of assurance, that we have by looking outward, is hard for the flesh to attain for a long time, for many. For, it is deeply imbedded within our sinful nature to look within ourselves, instead of trusting in the promise of God, and it is contrary to our natures to take someone at their word without one of our five senses confirming it. Look at Thomas, for example; and what did Christ say to him: "Blessed are those who believed and didn't see." God wants us to simply trust and believe his word, just as he did with Abraham. Abraham had to wait 25 years before one letter of God's word was fulfilled to him regarding the promise, yet he clung to the word of God, and did not waiver in unbelief. I sometimes think that God often allows the church very little of sanctification because of their often small faith in his word and promise in the Gospel, that he has already truly forgiven them through the work of Christ, and that the cup of wrath has already been poured out for their sins, and that he remembers their sins no more. In fact, it seems that the II Peter verse quoted above by Iconoclast points out this very thing. For, in verse 9, Peter says that "whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins." This, to me, seems to be why he goes on to say, "Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure," for out of surety about our calling and election, our sanctification in these areas will be fueled and progress, and our likelihood of stumbling and being ineffectual and unfruitful will diminish. He tells them that the solution to an unsanctified life is to look outward to Christ, not inward; and to remember our former cleansing from our sins by his work, not to doubt it. And, out of reminding ourselves of our former cleansing and right standing with God, peace ensues, which is the fuel for obedience and sanctification. For, the love of Christ is what is to constrain and fuel our behavior, not fear or law.

    Hang in there! Assurance of faith is attainable!

    Last edited: May 30, 2008
  20. JBaldwin

    JBaldwin Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I was listening to a sermon on the radio today, and the minister mentioned the fact that no matter what we do, no matter how hard we try, no matter what things appear, our assurance rests in Christ's work done on our behalf.

    Paul at the end of his life, counted himself to be the chief of sinners. He struggled with sin, as we do, but he rested in the finished work of Christ. I love the words of an old hymn, "I stand upon His merit, I know no other stand, not even where glory dwelleth in Emmanual's land."
  21. Leslie

    Leslie Puritan Board Junior

    Our justification rests on Christ's work alone. There is no other ground. However, some people will end up excluded from the pearly gates and others will be admitted. At some point one must see evidence (or lack of such) of God's having given a changed heart. I know some people who have the assurance of salvation but don't see what is glaringly obvious to everyone else that their faith is in something other than Christ--it's in a system or a cult leader or whatever. They are fooling themselves. Who am I (or anyone else) to say if I/we are not also self-deceived? There were times in the past when I had an inner assurance and yet, in hindsight, at that time my god (my highest allegiance) was my own career or comfort.

    What Jesus seems to be holding out in the "hard sayings" passages is a standard of utter besotment with Him. The fact that I've seen this in the lives of a few others makes me think that He was not talking hyperbole when He said that there are few that find eternal life. My tentative conclusion in meditating on these passages is that assurance of being one of the elect is simply not attainable. I know this is contra-confessions; so be it. Can anyone prove me wrong from scripture?
  22. JBaldwin

    JBaldwin Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Luke 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, [1] is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.

    I John 4:13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.

    It is God's Spirit that testifies to us that we are His children. That assurance comes from Him. If we do not have it, then we need to ask God why.

    When I was worrying about assurance, one of my Bible professors made this comment to me. He said, "If want to know Christ with all your heart, and you are worried about whether or not you are really God's child, stop worrying and rest in Him, because if you have any desire in your heart for God, He put it there, because no seeks after God unless the Spirit has draws Him. That alone is evidence of God's work in your heart."
  23. Leslie

    Leslie Puritan Board Junior

    What your professor said is the same thing that I've heard elsewhere--if you are worried about being reprobate, that means you are not. He (and this seems to be the majority opinion) refers to any desire at all as adequate evidence of the saving work of the Spirit. However, the hard sayings of Jesus as well as the gist of some of the parables indicates that the norm is utter obsession and besottment with God and His word. There seems to be a troubling disconnect there. Granted that at the beginning of one's spiritual life (and perhaps other times) the spiritual life might be poorly evident. Yet it is there and with time will become evident--the yeast that works itself throughout the dough. The question really is whether one can see enough of the Spirit's presence in one's life to conclude that one is elect. Various reprobates in the scriptures--Saul and Judas in particular--had evidence of the work of the Spirit in their lives at some times and to some extent. Therefore just any evidence is not sufficient, it seems, though I'd love to have someone prove me wrong.
  24. JBaldwin

    JBaldwin Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    What you are saying is that God does not know His own and that His own do not know Him. That is a fallacy. While it is true that some may be diluded into thinking that their salvation is secure (out of pride or whatever reason), the evidences given in I John, plus the witness of God's Spirit within a person are enough. The entire book of I John is all about assurance.

    If you say that we cannot have assurance then you ARE calling God a liar. Can we be deceived by our own sinfulness? Of course we can. But does God know His own? YES He does. Do His own know they are His? Yes, they do. His Spirit assures of this, and that for me often comes in the moments when I feel the furthest away from God and am wondering why in the world He would care anything for me.

    Please don't misunderstand me into thinking that I believe every person that claims to be a believer is a believer. And yes, there should be evidence in that person's life, and from the very start, even if it is weak. What we should not be doing is looking at other people's lives to try to determine whether or not they are Christ's.

    If they are living in sin, we should correct them in love, but we cannot judge a person's heart. We can only go on the evidence we see.
  25. Leslie

    Leslie Puritan Board Junior

    O.k. Scripturally God knows His own and His own know they are His. However, that does not preclude others who are NOT His thinking, incorrectly that they are His, deceiving themselves. If people can deceive themselves into thinking that they are believers when, in fact, they are not, how can anyone but those with radical commitments to God know what category he/she is in? Jesus' picture of final judgment day He separates the sheep from the goats, those whom he "knows" (which I interpret as those who have a certain intimacy with Him) from those whom he doesn't know. Can't a person can find evidence of both belief and unbelief in his own heart?
  26. JBaldwin

    JBaldwin Puritan Board Post-Graduate

  27. Leslie

    Leslie Puritan Board Junior

    Perhaps it's just a matter of time before assurance sets in.
  28. moral necessity

    moral necessity Puritan Board Junior

    We must remember that assurance is of two types: objective and subjective. Objective assurance is based upon the finished work and promise of Christ. Subjective assurance is based upon our sanctification that is ongoing. Assurance is not limited to the subjective arena only. In fact, the root and foundation of our assurance is objective, which must first be established. The subjective assurance does follow, but varies in degrees for different people and may even sometimes be hard to discern correctly, because our faculty of discernment is still contaminated with sin, as Leslie has well stated. With regard to the degree of sanctification, keep in mind that Christ even said that there will be distinctions for different people, for he said, "...they will bear fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty". True that we all bear fruit in its due season and time, but we cannot expect that all will attain to some extremely high level of it in this life. The presence of any is confirmation of its reality and genuineness. So, let us have caution that we do not dismiss the reality of objective assurance that is true and genuine and available, as it was even when we first turned to Christ while we were ungodly and enemies and very much unsanctified. For he justifies us while we are such, and so he removes his wrath from us and welcomes us as his children before he begins the work of restoring us on the inside. We must cling to this objective assurance continually throughout our sanctification, for if it is not firmly established and held on to, we will not be able to quench the firery darts of Satan that Eph.6 speaks of. Note that we are told to resist him with all objective things. We gird our loins with truth; we put on the breastplate of righteousness, which is the imputed righteousness of Christ; we take the shield of faith, (ie. in the finished work of Christ) to extinguish his firery darts; we gird our feet with the gospel of peace, in that we already have peace with God; and we put on the helmet of salvation, in that we have assurance of our salvation and deliverance before we enter into the battle with him. If we try to enter into this spiritual battle with Satan, regarding our stance with God, on subjective grounds, we are more likely to lose. If we sometimes struggle with subjective assurance within our own selves, how can we expect to fare any better against the master deceiver? So, let us have caution that we not reject neither objective assurance nor subjective. And, let each have their proper place in our lives. Let us not divert our eyes inward at the expense of looking outward to Christ, for "he himself is our peace".

    Last edited: Jun 2, 2008
  29. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    I think the distinction Charles is drawing between objective and subjective assurance can also be put it in the form of two questions.

    1. Is Christ the perfect saviour of all who believe in Him?
    (The answer is yes.)

    2. Am I a believer in Christ?
    (The answer varies.)

    We often do struggle with doubt as to point #1, although when you stop and ask yourself the question of course you know the right answer. But I think that sometimes worry about point #1 disguises itself as worry about point #2. Here I love a statement made by H.C.G. Moule:
    And the more faith is exercised upon Christ (rather than upon itself) the stronger that "reflex act of faith" grows, whereby we are assured of the existence of faith. The very simple way forward, is to look to Christ:
    1. For justification
    2. For sanctification
    3. For assurance

    So what do we do with Christ's strong statements? Well, we understand their purpose (to awaken the sleepy, to leave no excuse to the blind, to stir up the godly to a diligent exercise of their graces), and we try again, but recognizing that as we breathe our last gasp on this earth, there will still be sin enough in us to ignite all the fires of hell, if it were not expiated by the blood of Christ; and so He must be all our righteousness.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2008
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