How does a person become a true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ? Is there a certain level of understanding that a person must achieve in order to be considered a disciple, and if so, how does a person achieve said level? If a true disciple cannot be produced by obtaining a certain level of understanding (head knowledge) about the Lord Jesus Christ, then what constitutes a genuine disciple of Christ? Consequently, how can we have assurance from the Word of God that we ourselves are genuine disciples? All of these are valid questions that either we have struggled with personally, or we have had to answer similar questions by people around us who are curious about what it means to be a true disciple. In the book, Life in Christ, Jeremy Walker does an outstanding job of answering the previous questions about what the Bible has to say about being a disciple of Jesus Christ, and the assurances that God has provided us in His Word to show that we are a Spirit-wrought disciple who has been united with Christ and also adopted into the family of God.
How does one become a true disciple of Christ? To answer that question, Jeremy begins with the total depravity of man which establishes a starting place that none of us are born Disciples of Christ right out of the womb. Once the depravity of man is briefly established, then Jeremy moves on to the fact that it is not enough to just understand what it is to “have and enjoy life in Christ”, but your eternal destiny is affected by whether you actually possess life in Christ . Therefore, how does one possess “life in Christ”? Jeremy notes, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God…’You must be born again’ (John 3:3, 7). This is the language of indispensable necessity. No one enters the kingdom without being born from above, without being subject to the enlightening and regenerating influences of the Holy Spirit.” (Page 1)
The rest of Chapter 1 focuses on what being born again feels, and looks like, from a biblical perspective. I loved the clarification that Jeremy provides towards the beginning of the chapter about our actions (or lack thereof) in the process of being born-again:
“We must be born of God if we are to enter the kingdom: it is an indispensable necessity. But this new birth always results in faith and repentance, and we are never directly commanded to be born again (for that belongs to God) but rather urged by messengers of the gospel of peace to repent of our sins and to turn to God and His Christ in faith, and so obtain everlasting life. That is our experience of this change of heart. The question with us must not first be, ‘Am I elect?’ or ‘Will I be born again?’ but, as we hear the commands and invitations of the gospel, ‘Am I repenting of my sins and believing in God’s Son, Jesus the Christ?’ for this is our known and felt experience of salvation.” (Page 4)
Honestly, Chapter 1 is one of the clearest presentations of the Gospel that I have read in a book in quite some time. The doctrines of repentance, faith, justification, regeneration, and propitiation are clearly defined and handled with gentle pastoral care by Jeremy. The chapter as a whole does an outstanding job of starting the book off strong and laying the groundwork for the rest of what Jeremy wants to deal with in the remaining 7 chapters of this book.
Chapters 2-4 discuss our newfound identity in Christ and union with Him once we have experience regeneration, Chapters 5-6 talk in-depth about how we can have biblical assurance of our true discipleship, and last two chapters discuss both the need for progressive sanctification and a thorough examination of one’s life and the growth (or lack thereof) in our fight to be holy. I would have to agree with most of the other reviewers that Chapters 5 and 6 on Assurance are the strongest chapters in a book that is filled with incredible depth. Jeremy does an outstanding job of showing that most of the issues surrounding assurance are due to an ignorance of our new union to Christ and how that union affects us on a daily basis. If you are trying to obtain assurance that you are indeed a true disciple of Christ, then you don’t need to base that on your emotions or progress in the Christian life. Instead, you need to look to Christ who purchased you with His precious blood and has imputed to you His righteousness and given the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of your inheritance. As Walker rightly states:
“So much confusion enters when people become more concerned with assurance than with Christ. The problem is that assurance does not save. Not even faith saves in itself. It is Christ who saves by faith. Faith is not the belief that we are saved but the belief that we are lost which sends us fleeing to Christ to save us. The question is not if we are elect but rather if we are trusting in Christ, for faith is the sure evidence of our election rather than election the warrant for our faith. (John 6:29; 1 John 5:1)”. (Pg. 92)
I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand what constitutes a true disciple of Christ written by an author who approaches this topic with pastoral love and care, and not as someone wanting to bury you under condemnation.
Title: Life in Christ: Becoming and Being a Disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ
Author: Jeremy Walker
Publisher: Reformation Heritage Books
I received this book for free from Reformation Heritage Books via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”