The following is the final chapter of my new book coming out with co-author, Megan Monterrosa. Follow #helpimsaved to stay in the know.
Introductory Thoughts: I want to make it clear that this book is not meant to be rules and regulations you must follow to hold on to your salvation. There is no formula for following Christ because following Him is based on your relationship with Him and everyone’s relationship is different according to the choices they make. This book is meant to be a field guide of best practices to keep your momentum going forward in the most meaningful relationship of your life. And these best practices are coming to you from two gals who’ve literally been walking this road themselves as well as leading others on it for decades. Now, it’s your turn to take the reins for yourself and invite those you meet and know along on the journey. Remember and be encouraged that even the little things make a big difference – do them because you’re saved not to be saved or continue to be saved. Megan and I are cheering you on.
- Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,[a] we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (I John 3:2)
- 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
- making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:16)
- Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. (Colossians 4:5)
- But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, (1 Peter 3:15)
- “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)
- Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (James 1:22)
Defining Discipleship again
At the beginning of this book we defined discipleship as gaining or having the ability to hear from God and obey the Holy Spirit on your own to renew your identity IN Jesus and commitment TO Jesus daily. Author and Pastor, Carey Nieuwhof, puts it simply that a disciple is “someone who has decided to trust Jesus as their Savior.” But how do you know whether they’re following Jesus?
Jesus actually gave us a very practical test that helps us know. He simply said: “By their fruit you’ll recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?”
In other words, look at someone’s life for the evidence.” (Nieuwhof, 5 Unfair Criticisms of Large Churches it’s Time to Drop)
If you want to know if you’re hearing from God and committed to Jesus, look at the fruit coming out of your life. Are you full of peace, joy, love, patience, and goodness? Do you have self control? Are you faithful? Are you gentle towards yourself and especially others? Probably not always because you’re still human and on this side of heaven (I John 3:2) But is the genuine pattern of your life exhibiting these things? Disciples exude love. It oozes out of them toward everyone they encounter. When you’ve found that you were not gentle with someone and then did not exhibit self control in response to that, were you repentant and hopeful that you’ll be more like Jesus next time? Did the love get clogged up? How can you get it flowing again?
Additionally, do you hear the word and do what it says? Do you let what you sense the Spirit is telling you as you read the bible, set you on a path toward Jesus or do you retreat into selfishness until you “understand more” or “are more comfortable” with what you sense you should do?
The ability to self evaluate like this, then change course and move forward toward love with a sense of joy and hope is what proves you’re a disciple. Discipleship is taking ownership of the “fruit” you produce in your life with the help and power of the Holy Spirit. Discipleship is engaging the world you live in through the love of Christ now alive in you.
Discipleship is engaging the world you live in through the love of Christ now alive in you.
Remaining a Disciple
So, how do you keep moving forward? Well, use the practices you’ve learned about in this book with the purpose and outcome of staying connected to the vine. Staying connected to the vine? What the heck does that mean? John, one of Jesus’ disciples, tells us that Jesus says “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” Remember, we just said our litmus test is whether or not we’re bearing fruit. We can stay connected to Jesus by the practices throughout this book. But I also have an encouragement and a warning from Author Priscilla Shirer:
“If we want to produce fruit, we don’t have to strive for it or sweat, or lose sleep, or grit our teeth in anxiety to achieve it.
The branch’s only responsibility is to remain connected to the vine and REST there.”
So take it easy. Rest in Jesus. Take these practices you’ve been introduced to in this book, one step at a time, one day at a time. Any progress is progress and remember – NOTHING can separate you from the love of Christ.
Paying it Forward
Guess what else? Discipleship is paying what you’ve discovered forward. Be constantly ready and look for opportunities to tell your story and give a reason for the hope you have whenever an opportunity presents itself. Look for opportunities to engage with all around you through the love of Christ in you. Do it in a way that relates and resonates with whomever you’re sharing with. Don’t sound pompous or churchy because that wouldn’t be gentle, good and patient would it? – no matter how good your intentions are. Meet people where they’re at just as Jesus would. I certainly hope Megan and I have done that for you with this book. If we haven’t, would you PLEASE let us know? No joke. I wanna know. I wanna know because I’m always learning and growing as a follower of Christ – as a disciple of Christ and we’re all in this together. Help me as I help you.
Jen’s Coaching Questions:
- How are you remaining in the vine and RESTING there?
- What lingering questions do you have about discipleship? Write them down and take them to a Christ filled friend or pastor.
Before We Say Goodbye:
So, you live for Jesus now and you’re daily moving forward in figuring out just what the heck that means. There is an enemy of your soul trying to derail you in these efforts. You can not overcome this enemy by sheer will power but if you focus your will power into these practices laid out in this book, the Holy Spirit will take it from there.
Additionally, I know we already addressed the importance of continual repentance, but let’s also point out that in Acts 2 when Peter says to repent and be baptized, he’s not saying confess every wrong thing you’ve ever done but rather to repent of the fact that you’ve been apart from Christ – you’ve been apart from love. That’s it. So don’t get frustrated over your failings. Just apologize for being apart from Christ, then use these practices to re attach to Him.
Thanks for being with us!