Grace Extending


Keys to and Questions for Healthy Discipleship

Every Christian is a disciple of Jesus. But that doesn't necessarily mean every Christian is walking in spiritual healthiness as a disciple. For example, the author of Hebrews lamented that his readers had become “dull of hearing” (Hebrews 5:11). Similarly, Paul described the Galatian disciples as “foolish” in regard to accepting false teaching, which then drove him to ask, “Who has bewitched you?” (Galatians 3:1). Out of Corinth there were (among other things) reports of “quarreling among” God's people (I Corinthians 1:11). Of course, such things (and many others) still plague the church today.

In light of such unhealthiness, it is vitally important for every follower of Christ to take his or her spiritual 'temperature'. How often? When Paul encouraged Timothy to “keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching” (I Timothy 4:16), he seemed to be prescribing a regular discipline of honest and humble self-examination.

But how exactly then does one take his or her spiritual temperature? As we've talked about in this month's teaching series, we do so with the 'thermometer' of God's word. Only Scripture can provide us with God's divine metrics of spiritual health. Only Scripture reveals Jesus to us, and therefore “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). Only Scripture, through the Spirit's empowering work, can convict and correct in regard to areas of genuine unhealthiness.

As we've discussed in recent messages, at Way of Grace we regularly talk about four key emphases in the Bible, emphases we can use as we practice this kind personal examination: One Lord, One Body, One Truth, One Mission. In more practical terms, these essentials also speak to four aspects of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus: it means being a servant, a sibling, a student, and a sent one.

As we learned this month, scriptural metrics of spiritual healthiness must always begin with the heart. But as God's word confirms, those inward realities always express themselves outwardly, in our words, priorities, choices, etc. With that in mind, and in light of this recent teaching series, would you take a few minutes to prayerfully ask yourself the following questions?

On Being a Servant of One Lord

  • Is it my aim to please Jesus Christ at all times, in every way?

  • Do I study God's word for the purpose of learning what pleases Him?

  • Do I treat lightly that which displeases Him?

  • Do I serve Jesus in love, and with love for others?

  • In what areas am I sluggish or stubborn in regard to God's will?

  • Is what He thinks of me more important than the opinions of others?

On Being a Sibling in One Body

  • Is love for my brothers and sisters in Christ evident in my life?

  • Am I faithful in terms of genuine, regular, and meaningful fellowship with other believers?

  • Do I think more about what others should do for me, or how I can serve others, just as Jesus served me?

  • Am I not only stirring, but also being “stir[red] up... to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24)?

  • What are some practical ways I'm helping brothers and/or sisters grow in their faith?

On Being a Student of One Truth

  • Do I love and long for God's word?

  • Do I regularly 'make room' in my schedule for God's word?

  • Do I both study and meditate on the Scriptures?

  • Am I striving to handle the word “rightly” (II Timothy 2:15)?

  • Is the word not only changing what I know, but how I think?

  • Is it my desire to be a “[doer] of the word, and not [a hearer] only” (James 1:22)?

On Being a Sent One on One Mission

  • Do I have a sincere desire to make Christ known?

  • Am I praying for the lost in my own circle, allowing God to soften my heart in light of their need?

  • Am I looking for ways to bless and serve those without Christ?

  • Am I “prepared to make a defense” (I Peter 3:15) to anyone who asks about my hope in Jesus?

  • Am I able to share a personal testimony in which Jesus is the hero of the story?

  • Am I supporting others who, whether near or far, are working to make Christ known?

So what should you do if you are struggling in any or many of these areas? First, repent if needed. Sometimes our struggles are the result of stubbornness and/or worldliness. But other times, the struggle is simply the result of not understanding God's calling. Second, however you're struggling, ask God to renew your heart in the spiritual healthiness that Christ died to make possible. Third, reach out to a brother, sister, or leader and ask for help. Sometimes healthiness in these areas is impeded by deeper issues that need to be worked out. Sharing with and receiving counsel and encouragement from a fellow believer can often make a huge difference in our struggles.

Finally, be careful about how you use questions like these. Yes, they can help us as we talk about biblical healthiness with someone who finds themselves in an unhealthy place. But they should never be used to condemn and tear down others. It's also important to keep God's grace front and center. When we are “rooted and built up in him and established in the faith” (Colossians 2:7), the gospel of grace regularly reminds us that none of these bullet points earn us a place in God's kingdom. Instead, they are expressions and evidence (cf. II Peter 1:5-11) of the fact that, wonderfully, God has already “delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13).




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