Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor, theologian during under the reign of Nazi Germany with Hitlar in the year of 1940s said it well, “Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.” Many pastor quote him for the book written, “The Cost of Discipleship.” Bonhoeffer was a professor, a pastor, a spy, and finally, a martyr. He believed that unless one followed Christ in a serious fashion, it was to cheapen the grace of God.
Discipleship occurs when someone answers the call to learn from Jesus how to live his or her life as though Jesus were living it. As Bill Victor, Making Disciples Stragetist MBC (Scholar & Residence) said it well, “Complete understanding to the gospel. We cannot divorce the discipleship from the gospel.” The end result is that the disciple becomes the kind of person who naturally does what Jesus did. Therefore, Jesus Christ himself said, in Mark 1:15 were, “The time is fulfilled, the Kingdom of God is at hand, now believe and repent!” The gospel message is that kingdom of God is at hand, the idea of repenting is giving proper allegiance to the king Jesus.
How the church understands salvation and the gospel is the key to recovering a proper biblical understanding of true discipleship. Jason Walter, Collaborator for Making Disciple of MBC said, “Bill Hull said, The Gospel you believe determine the disciple you become.” Today in America, being a Christian has no connection with the biblical idea and standard of that we are formed into the image of Christ. The apostle Paul constantly is reflecting on his example and his walk, “What you saw in me, pass on to others” (Phil. 4:9) and “You see my conduct and matches with my message” He is constantly speaking on the subject of imitation. Therefore, the gospel has everything to do with discipleship. It’s not either or, but it is a both and.
If we then believe in a consumer gospel, we will become a consumer disciple. If we believe the legalistic gospel, we ourselves will become a legalistic disciple. It is extremely important that as ministry leaders to have a compelling, concise and crystal clear definition of what the gospel is. Unfortunately, most pastors and ministry leaders, have a “Squishy understanding of the gospel”. So if as pastors, ministers and leaders, we having a fuzzy understanding of what the gospel is, we can only imagine what exist within our local church. Help us Lord.