Yes, there is a vast difference if you try to seperate the two.
It has been said that there are three mindsets concerning presenting the Gospel to the unsaved:
1) those that demand too much,
2) those that demand too little; and
3) those that present the gospel correctly.
Concerning those that demand too much, there are some that would seek to set such legalistic standards to salvation, those that would “strain and a gnat and swallow a camel“ (Matthew 23:24); attempting to foster legalism when explaining salvation to the unregenerate (this will not be discussed in this post, but will be addressed in a later blog). And then there are those that would attempt to paint such a pretty picture of the Christian walk, to make it attractive at the expense of the truth; that many false converts in our churches enter only leave once they find out that the true Christian walk demands everything we own, sometimes even our very lives.
Presenting Jesus as Savior only, not Lord
It is this second group, those that would present the gospel in such a milquetoast manner that they would not explain to the potential convert the full ramifications of following Jesus Christ (“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” ~ Luke 19:23).
This is never to imply that one earns their salvation, or that they trade or barter for the same (“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” ~ Ephesians 2:8-9).
However, if one attempts to present Christ as the Savior of mankind who has come to die for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2), without presenting Jesus as the Lord (John 13:13; Matthew 12:8) and King (John 18:37; Revelation 19:16) over the followers life, this is deceptive and unworthy of those that say they are His followers. It is unfortunate that many supposed believers do not have enough faith in God that they would think that they must leave out the hard parts of the story in trying to sell Jesus Christ by presenting only a positive side of the issue. Yet, there are many who take on the mindset of a salesman in presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ, and in the process emasculate the power of God, while denigrating His sovereignty. The point is that there will be trials and tribulations of this world if follow (following Jesus Christ is a euphemism which is synonymous with becoming a believer, accepting the grace given to become a son of God, adopted into God’s family – there are those that attempt to delegate this word beyond its natural meaning as Jesus used it) Jesus Christ (“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33; and Mark 13:21). However, this is nothing in comparison to what is gained in the next world, or the punishment for rejecting God’s Son in hell for all of eternity.
The Great Caveat – Your Saved from Hell in Eternity, but you will Go through Tribulation Here.
Therefore, it is an imperative to witnessing concerning Jesus Christ that we fully explain what becoming a follower and believer in Jesus Christ mandates of our life. Jesus doesn’t want only our Sundays and our money; He wants everything, all of us – we no longer own ourselves (“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own” ~ 1 Corinthians 6:19); we are that which He purchased with His own blood (“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” ~ 1 Corinthians 6:20; and 1 Cor. 7:23; 1 Pet. 1:18-19; 1 Pet. 2:9; 2 Pet. 2:1; Rev.5:9; Acts 20:28). We must be completely frank about this in order to fully prepare the new convert with the mindset that trials (“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” ~ 1 Peter 4:12-13) and tribulations (Matthew 13:21) are a part of this walk, and to gloss over this point we lack preparing them for the reality they are about to enter, while also being dishonest in the process.
For the last century, attempting to present the gospel of Jesus Christ to the unsaved has been referred to as witnessing (“witness,” from the Greek: martus, which we get our English word “martyr;” in that to witness was synonymous with pledging your life concerning the trustworthiness of that which was stated – been willing to die rather than to recant – and willing to die if it was a lie – Acts 1:8), which is spoken of as leading to an individual to Jesus Christ. Its main purpose has been a one time encounter to solicit a convert. And while the idea of making converts is Biblical (Matt. 13:15; Matt. 18:3; Mark 4:12; Luke 22:32; Johe 12:40; Acts 3:19; Acts 28:27; James 5:19; James 5:20;), the idea of a one-time encounter is not. Jesus instructions concerning converts is seen in Matthew 28:19-20, which states:
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
We need to notice a few aspects of Jesus instructions (time does not permit to take the verses in whole, which would take more than a few pages, we will take the first verbs of each verse), He says:
1) “Go,” Jesus doesn’t say to bring them into the church – make them come to you; but go to them. We are to present the gospel in the world, to the potential convert where they are at. The verb, “Go,” is in the aorist tense, which is characterized by its emphasis on punctiliar action (point action – occuring in time); that is, the concept of the verb is considered without regard for past, present, or future time. It is a passive deponent voice which in almost all cases are translated as being in the passive voice, which is the voice that represents the subject as being the recipient of the action. Hence, the subject; those that Jesus is speaking to, the hearers – us, we are to “Go.”
2) “teaching,” Jesus doesn’t say convert them in the sense of present them with the gospel and leave – this is not a one-time encounter that Jesus is instructing us to do. The verb, “teaching,” is in the perfect tense, meaning that it is an ongoing continuous action to does not stop. It is in the active voice, meaning that the teaching is done by the individual that is witnessing. The point is, a one-time encounter makes no great demand of the believer witnessing – it is superficial, and lacks no real commitment of time or effort. Yet, the act of teaching; the idea of introducing someone to Jesus Christ and then to become a part of their life, wherein you teach them the Word of God – you disciple them, this is what Jesus is saying here. You take them to church with you, break bread with them, and spend your life with them – sharing the gospel; this is “teaching.” This is much more of a commitment than simply a one-time presentation, which is what witnessing has
Philosophy (Greek: Philosophia, ‘love of knowledge’)
Let me continue on by way of emphasizing an expression which is true and authentic to the human experience. It has been well documented and replicated within management circles that the following expression that has proven itself time, and time again:
“Responsibility cannot be separated from authority.”
The point is that authority by its very nature represents more freedom, at least over those or that which is governed over; rather it’s an elected governmental official, an employer, or a parent. However, freedom is never without restraints. Freedom may be free, but it’s not cheap (freedom always costs someone something, perhaps not those down the road, but it did cost those that gained it). Within the principles which God has created within the makeup of man’s soul, and heart (biblically speaking, the heart never refers to the emotions alone; but to the complete inward man which involves the 1) Mind, reasoning, 2) Emotions, and 3) the Will, where choice is made; discretion more predominantly – see the post: “The Heart and the Mind – What the Biblical word “Heart’ Means”); there are certain attributes of humanity which cannot be violated, without repercussions – reciprocity. Such is the above expression.
God has built reciprocity (“a mutual agreement to exchange privileges, dependence, or relationships,” also it is defined as: “when things are coupled together because of there very nature”) within His creation. From such we get the idea of conditions on the one side, and consequences on the other. This is where God has built within humanity the mandate for responsibility. And within this moral or standard of responsibility, you never get something for nothing, even if what is gained is the consequence of an attitudinal change. In one case it may be gratitude and thankfulness (Colossians 3:15), while in another it may be expectation and presumption (2 Peter 2:10). The point is we live in a world where nothing is isolated unto itself.
The myth of our current age is that one can be totally free and unaccountable to anyone or anything, and that this is achievable on some realm (personal note: by nature I hate restrictions, guidelines, and rules. I naturally enjoy the easier softer way, and have a real hard time with self-discipline. I am not proclaiming what is comfortable for me or what I like. So please understand that these rants and raves are against my very soul, and not made in self-righteousness; judging others. Every one of these negative qualities I wrestle with daily, so if you hear any self-righteousness, it is only your own perception). However, freedom requires responsibility, in the same way that righteous authority demands accountability. And if these principles, which are part of the framework of humanities disposition are missing or decline, then the attribute ceases or lessens. These are principles of life, unchanged by our philosophy or religious bent. Anarchy only works if there is only one person on a island, and even then, it still affects change in your attitude, and mindset, wherein if indulgence is completely given over to, inner peace and joy are the casualties.
In the same way, within the spiritual realm of Christianity there is responsibility which mandates adherents. Man cannot live within a vacuum, because God refuses to allow it to occur. If you attempt to isolate God’s sovereignty in your life, then you make moot His salvation. And while salvation is never solely an act of our will, and is a free gift of God, there are conditions of receiving that cannot be sidestepped, or else the gift has no value.
There is the old analogy that if someone wanted to give you $100, and extends their hand with the bill in your direction, stating: “I give this to you as a gift, it is free if you received it.” To receive it, you would have to take the action of extending your hand and taking it from the giver. Though the gift is totally free and unearned there are still conditions to receiving it, you still must take an action; as well as implying your reception of the gift.
The point is while true that belief is the only necessary condition of receiving salvation, what is that which is to makeup the belief. To receive the forgiveness of God implies that you believe that it is truly God who exist and does the forgiving; and is therefore sovereign. And in the process if it is God that has given you the salvation, and by the very definition of the word “God,” His sovereignty is implied; and how can a person not believe that they are to submit to that sovereignty within receiving the free gift. Does one believe that you could receive salvation, then go down the road and completely disassociate yourself from the belief that God is truly sovereign in your life as well. Salvation is based upon grace, and grace is received through faith; and faith by its very definition implies trust as the basis for a relationship, which when the relationship is with God implies submission to His will and rule of your life.
Not Overdoing It – Baby Steps, Nevertheless Steps must be Made
I do not believe that when you are explaining the gospel to an unbeliever, that you should lay down the 613 requirements of the law found in Leviticus, If done so as requirements of accepting the free grace of Jesus Christ. But one must share the law (10 Commandments) to show the sinner that he is indeed a sinner, and has violated God’s law (“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” ~ Romans 3:20); how else shall he repent from that which he has done, unless he knows it is wrong – sin. Explaining the concept of repentance (“And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” ~ Mark 1:15“; “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out…” ~ Acts 3:19), which is not a singular act, but actually means to “change a person’s mind, which in turn changes the direction of their life – how they walk (John 8:12; Romans 6:4; 8:1,4; 1 John 1:7; 2:6; 2 John 1:6; 3 John 1:4). This understanding of repentance is completely necessary; and by its definition the law must be presented in some form, with the 10 Commandments being a good example.
Or if all you did was explain the basis of faith as simply believing a story than a man lived 2000 years ago and died on a cross for your sins without informing them that faith is a relationship of trust wherein you rely upon God as your sovereign deity, and that as in the case of all sovereign you are obligated to obedience. For how can you trust a deity if you refuse to do what He says. Telling a potential convert anything less concerning accepting God’s free gift of salvation is intellectually dishonest, and many times is referred to as “cheap grace.”
Jesus displayed that there cannot be a separation between repentance and salvation, when the Scripture states:
“From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”1
The Greek word for “repentance” is metanoeo, and involved a changing in direction or purpose in life. It was never simply the motive, or resided in the emotive or cognitive realm; but transcended to change behavior. It is to believe something so powerfully that it changes the way a person acts. And used by Jesus, it represents a redirection of behavior; that of a person normally heading towards sin, then turning completely around, and heading toward God, in His direction.
If the conclusion of the definition of salvation is entering heaven, then according to Jesus obedience to do God’s Will is also required, as seen when he said:
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” 2
The Greek word “disciple” is mathetes, which means a student, pupil, or follower.3 The word Christian is similar in that it denotes a follower of Christ. Therefore, if a person is not a disciple of Christ, he is not a Christian. And if he is not a Christian, then he is not saved. Being saved does not stand on its own, but is part and parcel of discipleship, and therefore mandates responsibility, as well as servitude. Jesus said:
“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”4
Responsibility is built into salvation; it is not responsibility to pay for sin, but responsibility to meet the conditions that God has laid upon those that would choose to respond to God’s free gift of salvation – to follow Christ. To do what Christ said to do, because of trusting in what He has said, this is faith.
Faith is a synonym for “belief,” which is much more than believing that Jesus existed as a man 2000 years ago, it is even more them believing that Jesus existed as the Son of God to pay for the sins of the world. Faith, because it is a relationship of trust, demands that obedience at some level is the goal. To have faith in God, you must have faith in what He has said, and that if He says to do something, you do it out of obedience because you trust Him. We do not obey for the sake of obedience, but we obey because of faith.
Obedience because of Faith – Not Obedience for the Sake of Obedience (taught by false religions)
If we obey ONLY because of obedience, we will be exchanging our behavior for salvation. But because faith is a relationship, which produces repentance; which is a change in direction from the way that I want to go as a sinner, unto the way that God would have me go as a believer – where He loves me and only wants the best for me ( Romans 8:28 ), this is the reason I can have faith in what He says to do, and therefore obey because of that faith. Obedience because of faith is what the Christian walk is meant to be. You can’t earned salvation, but you must receive it, according to His condition, that of faith.
The very definition of Christian faith involves a trust in God, and that He will reward those that diligently seek him5, therefore how can you separate a servitude to the God that you have imparted your trust in. It is in your cooperation with His Will that benefits your soul. It is in laying aside your own presuppositions, along with perceptions, that validate your faith in Him to begin with.
If you can trust God with your eternal salvation, why can you not trust Him to rule your earthly life. This is not paradoxical, it is antithetical. Unfortunately, there are those that call themselves Christians and attempt to preach this blasphemy. They attempt to substitute their will for Gods.
It is impossible to separate God’s sovereignty as Lord of your life, from His application as Savior of your soul.
The Gospel ~ The Whole Word of God
Any Gospel (“good news”),that reports or implies, a softer easier way outside of complete submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, is a false gospel. Salvation is much more than a few verses taken out of context. This is why Paul stated, in defense of his ministry that he presented the complete volume of God’s Word when he stated in Acts 20:27-28:
“For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God [the whole will of God – His complete Word to man ~ which is contained in the gospel, that 13 letters Paul wrote; and the 10 others written by apostles]. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”
It is when false believers dissect God’s Word, leaving out what opposes their own false doctrine, utilizing Scripture out of context; that they attempt to make the Bible support their own false teachings.
Be it the: “Manifolds Sons of God,” “Dominion Theology,” “Replacement Theology,” “Word Faith Movement,” “Seed Faith Movement”; or any other form of chicanery; if it attempts to replace, or subvert the Lordship of Jesus Christ in the life of the convert or believer: it is a damnable heresy that will lead people to hell.
The subtleness of the “doctrines of demons” has been attempting to work its way into mainline Christianity in United States for decades now. It is very appealing to our desire (lust) to have a easier, better, softer, more successful life, as opposed to the type of Christian life Christ did spoke about ( Matthew 1023-24). Some have called it “Christianity Light.” It plays down our responsibilities to God, man, and our country; and appeals to the narcissism, which is the hallmark of our day.
We even see it in those churches which we refer to as “Seeker Friendly,” or even those movements which are called evangelistic. And there are a lot of good-hearted people behind these churches and organizations as they attempt to continue to evangelize the world, but at what cost?
They attempt to make it as easy as possible for people to enter the Kingdom of God. The services become a concert, where emotionalism, rather than worship is exhibited. Where stories and presentations behind the pulpit are mere entertainment; and Scripture is used sparsely as props to rationalize a presupposition, or themes.
Don’t get me wrong, while raised as a child with the old hymnals, my preference is with some the newer (40 years old) praise songs. But many of the much newer songs just talk about us: they are the me and Jesus type of songs, rather than just worshiping Jesus alone. And so many of the messages are about leading better lives, being better Christians, better parents, and better citizens. while these things are good things, are these what should be this Sunday morning services to the congregation, about us – or should it be about Jesus. There is so much self-help going on in the church, as seen in all the individual type of groups and classes; yet always at the expense of teaching the meat of the word – things that are hard to hear him take focus to understand. It’s much more appealing to talk about ourselves rather than our God. It becomes very attractive to use the tools of the world and modernity, to court the masses. But at what price?
“Theopedia, An Encyclopedia of Biblical Christianity,” states:
Easy believism is the “popular slogan for the view that one simply has to believe in order to be saved and that there is no corresponding need for a committed life of Christian discipleship.”6 The result is that sanctification is divorced from justification, and discipleship is seen as a path that some Christians follow, but not others. The term carnal Christian is used to describe such a supposed Christian, who once made a “decision” but has not continued in discipleship. Names applied to this doctrine by opponents include no-lordship and cheap grace as it suggests that “accepting Jesus” does not involve any further commitments. Proponents of this view, on the other hand, prefer the term the “free grace” to describe their position. Easy-believism is also said to overemphasize the doctrine of assurance of salvation at the expense of personal authenticity.
Those who hold to the Free-grace position are generally Arminian in theology, although classical Arminianism does not adhere to this. By contrast, Reformed Christians generally hold to what is termed Lordship Salvation. However, among adherents of each view one will find there are differences of language and emphasis. According to Phillip Johnson:
“These days, support for the no-lordship gospel is mostly confined to a small but prolific group of speakers and writers. Dallas is still the geographical hub of their movement. The Grace Evangelical Society has published their journal since 1988. In fact, for the past 15 years or so, GES has almost singlehandedly kept the drumbeat alive for the no-lordship position.”7
Lest you misunderstand what this teachings by this orgination is really all about, the website for “Grace Evangelical Society” is: http://www.faithalone.org/about/affirmation1.html; and it states in their “About” section, under their “Affirmations of Beliefs”:
The sole condition for receiving everlasting life is faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ, who died a substitutionary death on the cross for man’s sin and rose bodily from the dead (John 3:16-18; 6:47; Acts 16:31).
Faith is the conviction that something is true. To believe in Jesus (“he who believes in Me has everlasting life”) is to be convinced that He guarantees everlasting life to all who simply believe in Him for it (John 4:14; 5:24; 6:47; 11:26; 1 Tim 1:16).
No act of obedience, preceding or following faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, such as commitment to obey, sorrow for sin, turning from one’s sin, baptism or submission to the Lordship of Christ, may be added to, or considered part of, faith as a condition for receiving everlasting life (Rom 4:5; Gal 2:16; Titus 3:5). This saving transaction between God and the sinner is simply the giving and receiving of a free gift (Eph 2:8-9; John 4:10 ; Rev 22:17 ).
In this new style of worship service, that is progressive, spectator oriented, emotionally driven, and “Word of God” delinquent; where is the emphasis. Where are the messages on repentance, sin, hell, suffering, sanctification, discipleship, sacrificial love, and dying to self. And prior to making altar calls, why have we not followed Jesus’ admonition to “count the cost.”
Why do we gloss over Jesus’ words so easily, when he said:
“And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:27-33
It is this form of “Cheap Grace” (that also devalues the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, as well is encouraging the flesh), that impregnates our appeal to the masses to “accept Jesus.” How more condescending could we be to the God of the universe – we must accept Him. It is what we imply that holds as much weight is what we say. It’s all been said many years ago, and was seen back then as a progression of carnality.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said:
“Let the Christian rest content with his worldliness and with this renunciation of any higher standard than the world. He is living for the sake of the world rather than for the sake of grace. Let him be comforted and rest assured in his possession of this grace – for grace alone does everything. Instead of following Christ, let the Christian enjoy the consolations of his grace!
That is what we mean by cheap grace, the grace which amounts to the justification of sin without the justification of the repentant sinner who departs from sin and from whom sins departs.
Cheap grace is not the kind of forgiveness of sin which frees us from the toils of sin. Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession.
Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.
Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.
Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must the asked for, the door at which a man must knock.
Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us.” From: “Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
The Last Word
Jesus himself said in John 13:13: “Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.”
- Matthew 4:17 – “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
- Matthew 7:21 – “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”
(1.) Concerning the topic of obedience, Walter A. Elwell states:
(2.) Text: The whole of biblical theology centers on the notion of divine revelation and the receptive response of man: God speaks his word, man hears and is required to obey. The connection between hearing and obeying is therefore essential. Hearing is always viewed as a process of the mind. When divine revelation is its subject, man must respond with obedience. This connection is borne out in particular by the language of obedience in the Bible. In the OT sama conveys the meaning of both “to hear” and “to obey.”Israelmust hear Yahweh’s voice and act in obedient response. In the Torah the theme of responsive obedience is underscored (Exod. 19:5, 8; 24:7; Deut. 28:1; 30:11-14). Abraham was blessed because he heard and obeyed the Lord’s voice (Gen. 22:18). This theme lies behind the prophetic injunction, “Thus says the Lord.” The prophetic word reveals both who God is and what he is callingIsraelto do. Disobedience, then, is any hearing which is not attentive, and this too is the story ofIsrael: “They have ears, but do not hear” (Ps. 115:6; cf. Jer. 3:13; Isa. 6:9-10).
(3.) In the LXX sama is regularly translated by words in the akouein word group, and this again expresses the inner relation between hearing and response. Emphatic forms hypakouein and hypakoe (lit. “to hear beneath”) convey the meaning “obey/obedience” (in the NT the verb appears 21 times; the noun 15 times, esp. in Paul). The NT, to be sure, brings out this OT background in full when Jesus demands that he “who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15; 13:9, 15-16; Mark 4:9, 23; 8:18; Luke 14:35). This kind of constructive response to divine revelation is illustrated well in the parable about the man who built his house on the rock. The story follows the exhortation of Christ: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46-49). In Matthew this same parable concludes the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 7:21-27), clearly indicating the seriousness of personal response to Jesus’ ethical injunctions.
(4.) Jesus stands in the OT prophetic tradition when he callsIsraelto a discipleship which essentially involves “doing, ethics. When a voice in the crowd praises Jesus’ mother, the Lord replies by saying, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it” (Luke 11:28; cf. John 10:16, 27; 15:5, 10). Bonhoeffer remarks: “The actual call of Jesus and the response of single-minded obedience have an irrevocable significance. It is only to this obedience that the promise of fellowship with Jesus is given.”
(5.) Bultmann points out that Jesus’ call has radicalized an obedience already well known in Judaism. First century Judaism had emphasized cultic and ceremonial rules to such an extent (365 prohibitions, 278 positive commands) that any notion of virtue was almost unknown. Jesus presses beyond the casuistic rules and expects a true obedience, not blind obedience: “You tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith” (Matt. 23:23). Man, in effect, must exceed the demands of the law (Matt. 5:20) and perceive for himself what God commands. That is, single-minded obedience grasps the spirit of God’s intentions (cf. Mark 10:2-9 on how Jesus applies this to one law) and exceeds God’s desires, not with the measured efforts of a servant (Luke 17:7-10), but as people who enjoy a vital and responsive relationship with him. Bultmann sums up: “Radical obedience exists only when a man inwardly assents to what is required of him,… when the whole man stands behind what he does; or better, when the whole man is in what he does, when he is not doing something obediently, but is essentially obedient.”
(6.) Paul regards obedience as being one of the consitituent parts of faith. Initially Christ stands as the model of obedience (Phil. 2:5-8), and through his obedience, which is contrasted with Adam’s disobedience, “many will be made righteous” (Rom. 5:19; cf. Heb. 5:8-9 for the parallel thought). Paul in fact views his task as bringing about the “obedience of faith” among the nations (Rom.1:5; 16:26). For him, every thought should be made “captive to obey Christ” so that the Christian’s obedience might be complete (II Cor. 10:5-6). This means that Paul too despairs of any faith that is either simply cognitive (a hellenistic weakness) or mechanistically legal (a Jewish fault). Obedience is of the essence of authentic saving faith and should provide evidence of a responsive relation the Christian shares with his God (cf. James 1:22-25; 2:14-20; I Pet. 1:22; I John 3:18).
(7.) ELWELL’S EVANGELICAL DICTIONARY OF THEOLOGY
(8.) Evangelical Dictionary of Theology by Walter A. Elwell,
(9.) (c) Copyright 1984, by Baker Book House Company.
(10.) All Rights Reserved.
- Concerning the description of what a Disciple is,Easton’s Bible Dictionary states:
Text: a scholar, sometimes applied to the followers of John the Baptist (Matt. 9:14), and of the Pharisees (22:16), but principally to the followers of Christ. A disciple of Christ is one who:
(1.) believes his doctrine,
(2.) rests on his sacrifice,
(3.) imbibes his spirit, and
(4.) imitates his example (Matt. 10:24; Luke 14:26, 27, 33; John 6:69).
- Luke 12:26-27 – “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”
- Hebrews 11:6 – “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him”.
- Donald K. Mckim, Westminster Dictionary of Theology terms, 85.