April 30, 2021
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26).
For the Christian, discipleship is more than being saved and attending church every now and again. Christian discipleship is following Jesus. The New Testament is replete with exhortations and examples of the need for the Christian to press on in Christian faith and Christian life.
(Ephesians 2:8-10) For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
(Galatians 2:20) I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
It is a sad, but a common practice for believers to lose the first love they had when they came to faith in Jesus Christ. This was the heartbreak of our Lord in writing to the church in Ephesus. I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name's sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. How did that happen? They left off doing the things they first did when they came to faith in Jesus. Their focus shifted away from a Christ-centered faith to an ego-centric faith. They stopped working out their salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). They put their hands to the plow handles, but they started looking back (Luke 9:62).
Salvation is on the Lord’s terms. Discipleship is likewise on the Lord’s terms. The Lord reminds us that the core truth in pressing on to Christian maturity in discipleship is saying no to self and yes to Jesus, in letting Him be Lord and stop being our own lord, in being faithful and loyal to the will of the Lord and not to our own will. Hard to do? Yes. But necessary if Christians are to press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14).
“Holy Spirit, motivate me to press on to mature discipleship in Jesus Christ. It is my weakness to look back, to look down, to look around and to not look up to the upward call of Christ. Help me to master this level of faith and follow-ship so that I may advance to the next level. To the honor and glory of Jesus Christ I ask, Amen.”