The Timothy Network is a grassroots outreach effort existing to make disciples, equip disciple makers, and to encourage intentional discipleship. We work with ordinary people from different walks of life. Many are church-going men and women who either, 1) readily admit they are going through the motions, or 2) who are trying to be disciples of Jesus but express serious misgivings about their relationship with God. Because active and confident faith are crucial elements in being an effective disciple, I’ll use this month’s E-letter to flesh out the two categories described here. I hope it helps in doing inventory of your own relationship with God.
1) Believing that a Jewish construction worker named Jesus was and is the one and only Son of God; that he healed the sick and gave sight to the blind; that he cast out demons; that he raised the dead and was himself raised from the dead; and that he ascended back to Heaven where he now resides at the right hand of God?
2) Or, is it a greater challenge to apply the call of Christ in your everyday life? After all, Jesus did say, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
First, many who identify themselves as “Christian” find it easier to believe in the facts about Jesus than to authentically die to self and follow him every day. Those falling into this camp might be regular church attenders who staunchly feel their particular faith family represents the one truth church. Discipleship is neither a part of their vocabulary nor lifestyle, however. The Bible, of course, addresses the “belief alone” mindset saying, “Even demons believe – and they shudder!” (James 2:19)
Acknowledging Jesus’ deity alone is not enough. Neither is merely warming a church pew three times each week. Genuine belief and faithful discipleship (obedience) can’t be separated. They go hand-in-hand, one implying the other. True belief fueled by the grace of God produces a fruitful lifestyle in Christ. We act on and intentionally live out what we really believe.
Even though belief alone is a dangerous dead end, a second category includes believers who struggle with a spiritual identity crisis which seriously hampers their usefulness. They sincerely believe in Jesus and earnestly try to be obedient. They constantly struggle with fear and anxiety over whether or not they remain in a secure position with God, however. They doubt that they’re “good to go.”
The sad thing is that failure to grasp and live according to our identity as born-again children of God renders our walk with Jesus without power, salt, or light. In short, our lives fail to demonstrate our new identity in Christ because we’re not confident from one day to the next that we’re truly saved. Rather than serving peacefully in our secure position in Christ, we instead struggle with guilt and spend a lot of effort trying to “manage our sin.” No, salvation doesn’t give us a license to sin; the apostle Paul made this clear. (Romans 6:1) However, our new position in Christ should free us from the “sin-identity.”
Confidently knowing who we are in Christ empowers us to live as triumphant children of the King of the universe! Uncertainty produces a powerless and opposite lifestyle. Paul reminded believers in Rome that the old man is “DEAD”! (Romans 6:2). He encouraged them to leave the dead man in the grave and live out their true identity as new creatures in Christ.
Those in Christ no longer live under condemnation! (Romans 8:1) That’s the good news! We all fall down at times, but “fallen” is no longer who or what we are! Being freed from sin by placing our faith in the finished work of Christ sets us free to live a life of joyful obedience. The grace of God is the great healer and motivator!
As my friend John likes to remind me, “Live out of the confidence that your life is ‘hidden with Christ in God,’ and remember that ‘He IS our righteousness.'” (Col. 3:3; Rom. 1:17; I Cor. 1:30; II Cor. 5:21; Gal. 2:20) That’s victorious discipleship!
Remember whose you are and live like it!
* Much credit and gratitude to my friend and spiritual mentor, John Gardner, with whom I sit and learn of the empowering grace of Jesus every Thursday morning. And to my discipler and friend, Bob Mize, who first helped me understand the believer’s security in Christ three decades ago. Although half the country away, I still talk with him every week.