January 15, 2016

What's Expected of You If You Accept I: Carry Your Cross

Nothing quite like starting a post that is titled like a Mission: Impossible lead-in.

[Tape hiss...ssssss..."Your mission should you accept it..."
[...ssssss..."This is what will be expected of you...if you don't do it...you'll be condemned"

Well, we are not dealing with an impossible mission here but we are going to talk about the "mission" of the Christian believer when it comes to discipleship. 

With discipleship comes some stringent demands made on a believer by God. They are not necessary but they are expected. I have felt the need to Biblically account for the requirements of discipleship in a person's salvation. I will now present to you as many of the criterion of Christian discipleship that I can. Wherever Scripture specifically cites the requirement is necessary to be considered a disciple of Christ, I will present it.

What Will Be Expected...If You Accept Your Mission

If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a million times. Our salvation is by faith not works. But as James said,

James 2: 14 -18 ~ “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 

Salvation will therefore have positive effects on a believer’s life and many if not most will be clearly visible. Endurance and perseverance in the Faith essentially requires one be a disciple or learner/follower of Christ or be “in Christ”. 

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You must be born again.

John 3:5-8 ~ “Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

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You must be born again because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and because the wages of sin is death

Romans 3:23 ~ “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

Romans 6:23 ~ “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

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If we confess our sins, God will forgive us.

1 John 1:9 ~ “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

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Our faith will come by hearing the word of God.

Romans 10:17 ~ “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”

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Some of the characteristics of discipleship are people that confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and that God the Father raised Jesus from the dead on third day in accordance with Scripture.

Romans 10:9-10 ~ “…that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 ~ “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures”

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If a person has become Christian they are baptized into Christ by putting on the character of Christ and dying to self. This type of person dreads, loathes and repents of their sin. They are also given the Holy Spirit as a down payment on their salvation.

Galatians 3:27 ~ “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”

Acts 2:38 ~ “Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

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We are God’s workmanship or new creation and were made specifically for God’s work of spreading the Gospel. Work that is a product of the fact that we are Christian. Work does not secure our salvation but attests to it. The road has already been paved and lined with righteousness by Jesus, we need only walk it.

Ephesians 2:10 ~ “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.

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For a person to take up Jesus’ cause and carry His cross requires that one leave their own life behind. The absolutism of the language drives this point home. Taking up one’s cross does not mean enduring some heinous torture but in reality dying to self. In this way every disciple of Jesus bears the same cross. The discipleship is not to pain but to dedication to Christ. Jesus already died for us. It isn't torture but no one said it was going to be easy either.

Matthew 10:38-39 ~ “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.

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In the Gospel of John, Christ said he gives his flesh “for the life of the world” (v. 51). Then he says whoever has not partaken of his flesh and blood has “no life” in him (v. 53). But then whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood “has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (v. 54). The Lord again gives the promise of resurrection to those who are associated with Him. In other words, those that will follow Jesus and obey His teachings…Disciples.

 John 6:53 ~ “So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.”

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