~ Step 1: Embrace an Apparent Paradox ~
NOTE: This Discipleship Model is a special 7-part series showing a clear path to spiritual victory. One step will be posted each day for a calendar week. After completion of this series Abundant Life Now will “resume regular programming.”
The Christian life and the Christian faith have many “apparent paradoxes.” Each of these is like a coin—having two sides, but in truth is only one coin. Both sides need to be fully embraced. This Discipleship Model starts with the recognition that as a disciple you are Totally Dependent upon God and also Fully Responsible before God.
Totally Dependent ~ Most Christians understand this. Here are two well-known verses from God’s Word. “I [Jesus Christ] am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
When dependence upon God is properly understood, the proper reaction is to be regularly in prayer. “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1, emphasis added). “I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting” (1 Timothy 2:8a, emphasis added). “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16b).
Fully Responsible ~ Even with God’s help the process of discipleship is hard work. He expects us to be responsible before Him. While it is not easy, it is worth it. Keep in mind your exciting prospect of becoming more and more like Jesus Christ your teacher. Jesus said, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40).
This is the normal and expected pattern of all Christians. “But we all [Christian disciples], with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Your responsibility before God grows out of the fact that you have been given everything you need to live a life that pleases God and to grow increasingly like Him.
Peter, who so many of us can identify with, stumbled many times, but he learned these truths. Listen to Peter, “To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
“But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
“Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1b-11, emphasis added).
Since you have been given the tools, you also have the responsibility to train yourself in Godliness. “Exercise yourself toward godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7b).
Step 1: Paradox ~ Understand your partnership with God.
The next step will focus on a key for lasting spiritual change.
~ Robert Lloyd Russell, ABUNDANT LIFE NOW