In my last two posts I have discussed the need for being a three-fold disciple. First I discussed the need for a person to be a disciple with their head, because there are facts about the gospel we must know in order to be a disciple. Next I discussed the need for a person to be a disciple with their heart. The facts of the gospel must transfer from our head to our heart and change what we believe. The last step of the three-fold disciple is the hands. What we know and believe effects what we do; simple as that. James puts it this way, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:14-17, ESV). He goes on to say, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even then demons believe and shudder” (2:19)! Belief in God alone is not enough, we must allow what we know and believe about the gospel to transform how we live. If a person merely does good deeds, they are not living the gospel they are following religion. These people are trying to work their way to a relationship with God and may not truly know Jesus.
For this reason it is crucial in discipleship to first know the facts of the gospel, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, ESV). A disciple must come to the realization that God is sovereign and created the world perfect, but man rebelled and sinned against God. Yet, God in his mercy and grace has made a way of salvation for wicked sinners. When a person responds to this gospel in faith he is justified (made right before God) and sealed by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1). The intellectual knowledge of the gospel must transfer to the heart and change what we believe. We are no longer sinners before a holy God, but adopted sons and daughters through the blood of Jesus Christ. This belief in the gospel then changes how we live. We now live as ambassadors in the world, doing good deeds, not to earn God’s love, but because he already loves us.
This changes everything! A disciple must learn the gospel (Head), believe the gospel (Heart), and experience/live the gospel (Hands).
Photo taken from the book Be the Church by Caesar Kalinowski and Seth McBee. The e-book can be downloaded from their blog here.