How Do I Live Out Radical Discipleship with a Wife and 3 Kids?

radical pictureOur Pastor has been preaching on Mark 8:34-38 over the last two Sundays, and it sounds so radical to our comfortable American Christian ears.  I have had plenty of time to think through what the implications of Jesus’ words are for my life, and to realize that Jesus’ “radical” call to discipleship may not be so radical after all, but rather simply counter-cultural.  So, how do I live out radical discipleship with a wife and 3 kids?

Listen to what Christ calls us all to:  “And calling the crowd to Him with His disciples, He said to them, ‘If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.  For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?  For what can a man give in return for his soul?  For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Christ bids me come and die.  This is not new.  “I am crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20)  It won’t always be flashy.  It might be putting my 19 month old daughter to bed and singing “Jesus Loves Me” with her.  It might be talking with my 5 year old about Jesus and why He died for us as we read a Bible bed time story.  It might be letting my 5 month old boy know that He is a blessing and loved by changing his diaper with joy.  It might be putting on a towel and pulling out a basin and serving my wife when I get home from a long day at work instead of serving myself, however that looks at any point in our marriage.  This is impossible in my flesh, but easy in the Spirit.

I may not be a foreign missionary.  I may not be a martyr.  I may or may not ever be put in jail for preaching the Gospel.  I may even own a home someday.  But I can still be a radical disciple for Jesus Christ.  If my life is poured out for Christ, if my family knows that I love God, love them, and love our neighbors and the nations more than I love myself, that is radical discipleship.  I do this so imperfectly, but  I am clothed in Christ’s righteousness.

Jesus, draw me nearer to the cross.  Help me to pour out myself and my family in losing our lives for Your sake and the Gospel’s.

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Does “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” Really Mean, “Go”?!

picture 17When Jesus commissioned His disciples from a mountain in Galilee with the words, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” did He really mean, “go”?  I have often heard it taught that because “go” is actually a participle in Greek, it could more literally be translated, “in your going make disciples.”  This view means that all Christians are to be making disciples, so wherever you go, make disciples–evangelize and teach others to follow Christ no matter where God has placed you.  This understanding of Matthew 28:19 does have a place for international missions because of course some of the Apostles then and some of Jesus’ followers now will want to bring this good news to all nations in light of other Scriptures that speak to people from all nations coming to Christ as their Savior.

While being theologically accurate, I believe that Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:19 have a stronger emphasis than this, making modern versions that don’t say, “in your going” accurate, and leaving us to question our hearts perhaps more than we would otherwise about our involvement in missions today.

Every participle in Greek does not need to be translated into English as an “-ing” word such as “going.”  The context and structure of the sentence also plays a part.  “Go” in Matt. 28:19 is closer to the main verb “make disciples” than “baptizing” and “teaching,” and it is also a different form of participle.  Grammarians call this a coordinating participle rather than a subordinate participle.  In other words, “go” must be obeyed and seen as some sort of command to be able to carry out the main command, “make disciples.”  A few examples of this same structure in Matthew makes this extremely clear.  Another king with vastly less authority than Jesus, King Herod, commanded the wise men, “Go and search diligently for the child…” (Matt. 2:8).  While “search diligently” is the main verb, the participle “go” here has such a command force that Matthew said that Herod “sent them to Bethlehem” (Matt. 2:8).  This was not to be understood as simply, “in your going, search carefully for Jesus.”  Just five verses later the angel of the Lord uses the same Greek structure to command Joseph to save baby Jesus’ life: “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt…” (Matt. 2:13)  In order to obey the main command, “take the child,” Joseph had to “rise.”  In the Great Commission King Jesus is indeed commanding His disciples to go so that they can obey the command to make disciples of all nations!

As Christians we are to go here (to our community, region, and nation) and there (to the nations), making disciples as we baptize (implying evangelism) and teach what it means to follow Christ.  We are to have a sense of urgency when the risen Christ commands us to go and make disciples.  Let’s not soften it.

For those of us who are not missionaries, this is a reminder of our responsibility to be involved in the world-wide advance of the Gospel through going (short-term as an encouragement or perhaps long-term), financially supporting missionaries, encouraging and assisting missionaries, and praying for them.  What a wonderful commission from our King!

Do You Care About Propitiation?

picture 16If you are a software programmer, then you have quickly and eagerly learned words like “gigabytes” and “linux.”  If you are a cook, then you will want to understand words like “al dente” and “broil.”  If you are a Christian, you should care about words like “propitiation.”

Propitiation is the word that God chose to communicate “appeasement” or “satisfaction” of God’s holy wrath against sin because of Christ’s perfect sacrifice of Himself on the cross.  Listen to these life-giving descriptions of propitiation:  “He is the propitiation for our sins…” (1 John 2:2)  “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

Jesus Himself is the sacrifice that satisfies God’s righteous wrath against our sins.  Jesus Himself took our punishment for sin on the cross, where the great exchange happened:  Jesus took our sins, and gave us His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21).  If you are in Christ, you no longer have to fear the wrath of God, because Jesus already bore it.  Jesus is your propitiation (notice the present tense in 1 John 2:2).

This idea of turning somebody favorably towards God because of a worthy sacrifice is beautifully illustrated in the Old Testament.  A form of the word “propitiation” was used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament to talk about the Mercy Seat on the Ark of the Covenant.  God’s presence, the Shekinah Glory, was above the Mercy Seat, and underneath the Mercy Seat–inside the Ark–was God’s Law.  The sprinkled blood on the Mercy Seat on the Day of Atonement went between God and His broken law.  It appeased or satisfied God’s righteous wrath against sin and a sinful people.  Jesus, the Lamb of God, was the fulfillment of this picture, the final atoning sacrifice for our sins.

So, do you care about propitiation?  You should, because you and I need it.  We need “a sacrifice that bears God’s wrath to the end and in so doing changes God’s wrath toward us into favor” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 575).  When you sin today, ask Christ to forgive your sin (1 John 1:9), and then praise Him that He is the atoning sacrifice that satisfies God’s wrath against your sin.

[image credit: www.zazzle.com]