Discipleship is a word we don’t often hear discussed in contemporary Christian fellowship. Even so, it is vital that we understand this concept from within God’s Word. Just before Jesus turned His face to go to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51), He calls His disciples to follow Him in all of life (Luke 9:23-27). This is but one example of Jesus calling His disciples to personally to follow Him. At the end of John 6, when Jesus gave a difficult teaching, He asks if all the disciples are going to leave Him. Yet Peter acknowledges that Jesus is the only One who has the words of eternal life (John 6:68).
In our current climate, we are seeing a cultural form of discipleship. You hear about companies today with their push for the LGBTQIA+ agenda—such as Bud Light, Target, etc. Or, similarly, with the push by many companies for “equality”—calling not just for people to believe that their products are worthy of purchase, but that their brand is “culturally acceptable”. Since when did virtue-signaling become a requirement for sales, often upheld as of even higher importance than the product(s) the company offers. In a capitalist system, should companies care more about their “brand” identity than about the products? In the cases of Bud Light and Target, we are seeing the answer— “no”. As companies wrongly prioritize their brand’s ESG over their products, we will begin to witness people abandon those companies.
The companies that will do well moving forward are those that focus on their product quality and less on branding their products to the people. There’s a big difference here: caring more about your brand means you care less about people. Caring about your product means you care that the product you are selling actually serves the audience that your product is intended for.
As Christians, we don’t have a brand or a product to offer but the principle behind what I’m talking about here is vital. As Christians, we care about people because of the message we believe in the gospel of grace. Because of the gospel of grace, we are being formed by Christ so that we might be His witnesses in all of the world.
Yet our world wants us to reverse the order. It wants us to be informed by the world more than we are informed by the Word of God. As Christians, we can never settle for this method, because the Word of God is the absolute truth. Scripture is the only way to know God and to know of Christ, as He is revealed in the Word. Scripture provides the Church with sixty-six books from which the Church may read, study, and proclaim biblical truth to a watching world. We do not need to adjust our message to suit the age, but we do need to faithfully proclaim the message of the Word so the age may adjust to the Bible.
And this is where biblical discipleship comes in and counters cultural discipleship. To be “in the world but not of the world”, or to put it another way—to fight the world, the flesh, and the devil (1 John 2:16)—we must know the Word and be under the Word in our local churches, for which must have biblical qualified male pastors.
One of the biggest challenges the Church faces is how we confront cultural discipleship in our current age. With the rise of digital and social media, we face challenges on every front. With the sexual revolution continuing to rise, critical race theory exploding into every sphere of life, intersectionality making a big debut, the New Apostolic Reformation, and New Age’s ubiquitousness, we need to make sure that our discipleship is firmly rooted in the biblical definition of discipleship. To be a Christian disciple means to be a learner, pupil, or student of Jesus. To be a disciple of the world means you are being shaped and modeled by the convictions and philosophies of the world. This is why many find the New Age and other world religions to be a valid form of following “god”, because they offer all the pleasure of following yourself apart from the exclusive demands of what the Bible says. Still, Romans 1 very clearly tells us that we would rather worship the creation rather than worship the Creator.
What about you today, Dear Reader? Are you being discipled by Jesus from the Word and in your local church? Or are you being discipled by the world? Is your life giving increasing evidence that you belong to the Lord Jesus? Is there even the tiniest bit of evidence that you have been brought from death to life by the Lord Jesus? Do you have anyone speaking into your life to help you grow in grace? Do you listen to them and seriously consider their life and godly example to you? Or are you a lone-wolf Christian, living on an island with no community and no one to walk alongside you, relying only on your Bible study at the local coffee shop?
In this issue of Theology for Life, we are considering what biblical discipleship looks like, especially in our digital age. Along the way, our prayer is that you’ll be instructed in the Word, pointed to Christ, and equipped even more to speak the truth in love to those in your local church, and to contend for the faith once and for all delivered to the saints.
In Christ Alone,
Executive Editor, Theology for Life Magazine
Dave Jenkins is happily married to his wife, Sarah. He is a writer, editor, and speaker living in beautiful Southern Oregon. Dave is a lover of Christ, His people, the Church, and sound theology. He serves as the Executive Director of Servants of Grace Ministries, the Executive Editor of Theology for Life Magazine, the Host and Producer of Equipping You in Grace Podcast, and is a contributor to and producer of Contending for the Word. He is the author of The Word Explored: The Problem of Biblical Illiteracy and What To Do About It (House to House, 2021), The Word Matters: Defending Biblical Authority Against the Spirit of the Age (G3 Press, 2022), and Contentment: The Journey of a Lifetime (Theology for Life, 2024). You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, or read his newsletter. Dave loves to spend time with his wife, going to movies, eating at a nice restaurant, or going out for a round of golf with a good friend. He is also a voracious reader, in particular of Reformed theology, and the Puritans. You will often find him when he’s not busy with ministry reading a pile of the latest books from a wide variety of Christian publishers. Dave received his M.A.R. and M.Div through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.