Updated: Jul 16, 2020
One of the problems in our churches that many scholars are calling attention to is the separation of salvation from sanctification. What does this lead to in those who hear such a message?
No sense of the need to truly “follow” Jesus. As Jesus addressed the multitudes in Luke 14:25 – 33, He warned them of the need to “…count the cost…” using family, military, and architectural imagery. Taking up the cross to follow Jesus is the end of self and the beginning of service toward sanctification which entails the practice of the spiritual disciplines to grow toward Christ likeness (1 Tim. 4:7). One reason our ministry saw over 200,000 new converts JOIN our training churches last year (2019) is because of the biblical teaching that salvation is only the beginning of the life in Christ! When your discipleship is a process rather than a program, this is understood.
Lack of understanding the purpose of salvation. In western Christianity the tendency has been to emphasize the concept that salvation is a ticket out of punishment. While that is part of it, we know from the Exodus motif used throughout Scripture that one is called out of something and into something. Rom. 8:29 addresses predestination in these terms, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” We are saved to begin the process of becoming more like Christ everyday – which is why we are told to take up our cross daily (Lk. 9:23). Eph. 2:10, following the familiar verses regarding salvation by grace through faith as a gift from God reminds us, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” These “…good works…” are the result of being the salt and light that Jesus described in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5:13 – 16). We have been called out of our lostness to become more like Christ to influence those who are still in their lostness! We have been called to ever increasing maturity to influence those who are still in their infancy!
The possibility of developing a growing pride. The danger of sitting in the pew, the class, the small group, without realizing numbers 1 & 2 above is that “Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies” (1 Cor. 8:1). Gaining knowledge without maturing in love for God and others is not healthy spiritually or relationally. The Great Commission is accomplished in the process of submission to the Great Commandments (Mk. 12:29 – 31).
Placed in leadership, they will model hypocrisy. In Lk. 6:40 Jesus warned that one being discipled becomes like the disciple-maker. Those who are not maturing disciples will disciple others to be like them, short-circuiting the process in their lives.
Our message, philosophy of ministry, and church structures should, collectively, proclaim the truth that salvation is only the beginning of God working in our lives. This is why we need a discipleship process that takes one from lost to leading; from birth to mature adulthood!