Being a Disciple of Christ

One of the current trends in Christianity is this teaching of “easy-believism”, the idea that saying a prayer to ask Jesus into your heart saves you and secures a place for you in Heaven. From my blog post of June 19, 2011:

There are many people out there who think they are Christians, think they are going to heaven when they die because they said a prayer when they were a child or they responded to an altar call at church. But in reality they have really never turned their hearts to Christ. The Bible never teaches that to be saved we have to “ask Jesus into our heart”.

Luke 9:23 states, Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to become my follower he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
Luke 6:46 says – “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord’, and do not do what I say?”

The famous passage in Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For by grace you have been saved, through faith and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.” (emphasis mine) We do not save ourselves – it is God who saves us.

The fruit of the Spirit is outlined in Galatians 5. Yet I see many professing Christians that don’t display these characteristics in their lives. Their lives are no different than others around them who aren’t believers. I challenge myself with these words. Is my life any different from the world around me? Can people look at me and see Jesus in my life?

My heart is burdened by what I see around me as “easy-believism”. But what I see in the Bible is a life called to sacrifice, to die to our own desires and to live for Christ. This article sums up what I’m trying to say much better than I can explain it: http://www.gotquestions.org/easy-believism.html

To grow as a disciple of Christ, first we need to make sure that we are one.

The gospel summarized:
“First, God’s holiness and justice require that rebellion against his perfect law be dealt with retributively, namely, in the suffering of both spiritual and physical death. Second, we humans can do nothing about this. We are helpless to atone for self and are thus wholly at a loss to escape the wrath of God that our sin has incurred. Third, Jesus Christ, the incarnate God-man, has taken our place under judgment and received in himself the penalty that was our sentence, thereby laying the foundation for our pardon and immunity from divine prosecution. Fourth, each human must look in faith outside and away from self to Christ and his cross as the sole ground of forgiveness and future hope.” (Sam Storms, as written in Packer on the Christian Life)
Repent (turn away) from your sins and place your faith in Christ alone for salvation. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

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Idols

There are so many idols to distract us from God and His truth. This world has many temptations to entice us away. Our hearts are the real culprit however. Much of what we desire and long for can be classified as good desires and longings, yet how we seek to fill those desires and longings often leads us to idolatry.

But wait a minute! Idolatry? Most of us, particularly in the Western hemisphere, would say that we don’t practice idolatry. We don’t bow down to wooden or gold statues. We don’t offer sacrifices anymore. But idols aren’t necessarily something physical. Idols are anything that we look to for satisfaction. Idolatry is worshipping something or someone other than the true God. In this way, we can see multiple ways that we turn to idols to fill our desires rather than to God Himself.

The desire for close friendship is a valid desire. The desire to grow in knowledge and understanding is a valid desire. But if I sin in order to fill those desires, they have become idolatrous. When I scroll through my Facebook feed and get jealous seeing my friends hanging out with other people rather than me, I have turned that friendship into an idol. When my longing to learn and study leads to buying books that I cannot afford, I have turned my desire for knowledge into an idol.

So how do we turn from idolatry to worshipping God? It all goes back to the heart. What am I looking to for satisfaction? Heart change takes time and involves a continual renewal of truth to remind ourselves that true satisfaction is found only in God, not in other people, knowledge, money, or power. They may temporarily satisfy, but will never really fill the longings we have within us. When I find myself longing for something, I need to examine why I am desiring that particular thing? Am I looking for it to fulfill me? Or is it something that God is using to bring Him more glory? Will this friendship help me to honor God with my actions and attitude? Or will it cause me to sin against Him? As long as we live in this sin-cursed world, we will struggle against idolatry. But that doesn’t mean we are defeated. Rather, God continues to renew His children and sanctify us with His truth. We go back to His Word to remind ourselves of His majesty and love. He is our only true Savior.