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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Discipleship: Profession or a Transformation?

By Edward F. Lundwall and Hope Ellen Rapson

Christ’s parable of the farmer sowing seed in four types of dirt found in Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23 illustrates the four types of receptivity in persons who in some way are exposed to the Gospel (Good News) of salvation through grace by faith in Christ. The first illustration of the seed being thrown on hard packed ground indicates a person who initially rejoices over the experience of asking Christ to save them, but when life gets tough, and the first emotions of his experience fad, this person quits; he does not become a disciple, a growing learner. He does not continue or endure when troubles come into his life (represented by the birds) because he does not allow the Word of God give him strength and character and guidance to face them. They give up and are often heard to say, “I tried religion, but it did not work for me.”

The second illustration of the seed thrown in soil that also grows weeds and thorns, shows a person who is so focused on the activities and things of this word, that they do not abide in relationship with Christ (John 15:1-16) and so do not develop the Christ-like character or the actions that reveal it. This distracted disciple, the case of a majority of Christians who can be described as simply having their ears pleasantly tickled by God’s Word, but choose to do things their own way or the way of nonbelievers. They profess a faith, but do not live by it. When challenged, they are often heard to say, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

The third illustration of the seed sown in fertile productive soil reveals the person who intentionally obeys and allows the Word of God to produces much fruit in character and service. They spend time alone and with others to search out God’s Will and seek to wholeheartedly to love and honor Him, and others. They profess a faith that is backed up by faithful character and actions. They are willing to be transformed by the renewing of their minds (Romans 12:1-2) through the power of the Holy Spirit. They are often heard to say, “I want to know God and make Him known.” 

The last illustration of seed sown on “stony ground,” demonstrates the person who initially rejoices in the good idea of forgiveness offered through Christ, but does not own it. He does not make an intentional decision to make it the foundation of his life’s journey. He does not “take it,” and thereby, “leaves it.” He does as he sees fit in his own eyes living independent of God, and is often heard to sing, “I’ll did it my way!”

The Good News of salvation through Christ as explained by Jesus Himself in John 3, requires “being born again.” True spiritual rebirth brings a permanent radical change even “…does (practices) the will of My Father who is in heaven…” (Matthew 7:21). The Lord Jesus requires a true disciple to “…deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23-25). This is not just a one-time profession or Sunday-statement of what one thinks, it is a basic transformation from one thing to another, from an independent unforgiven sinner, to a newly born forgiven dependent child of God. It is not mental assent; it is radical change of character and life-style that is strongly rooted in the good and fertile soil of a person one who is completely committed.

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