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Discipleship – Part IV

3. A Disciple Holds Onto This World Slackly… (continued)

In ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’, the Pilgrims Christian and Faithful enter the town, Vanity Fair, which is a picture of the world. It is a massive fair, with the people selling all kinds of things. Everyone in the fair notices they are different by their clothing and their speech, and they begin to mock them. One trader comes up to them and asks them, ‘What will ye buy?’ They respond, ‘We buy the truth.’ That’s the most precious commodity, your most precious possession – truth. And as a disciple, you are willing to forsake all, for the truth’s sake. You hold this world, with its goods very lightly. Salvation is free, but following Christ is costly. Many people come to Christ on the basis of the fact that salvation is freely offered, thinking that because the gift of eternal life is free, that the rest of life will not cost anything.

One of the reasons for so little correlation between the amount of decisions claimed every year for Christ and the amount of changed lives is that people have not looked upon this Christian life as Christ described it. It is a life of loving Christ supremely. It is also a life of following Christ single-mindedly, to the death of my flesh. And it’s a
life of holding this world very loosely in our hands. So to illustrate the cost, Jesus gave two parables. The first is the picture of a man who sets out to build a tower, without calculating the amount of materials required. He just jumps in and gets going, and then runs out of money, and people mock him for his half-finished tower. The man did not think of what it would cost, so he could not finish.

The second pictures a king about to go to war, who recognises he is vastly outnumbered. If he decides defeat is certain, he goes and asks for terms of peace before the battle. He considered the cost before he ends up soundly defeated. The Lord is saying that, to avoid the humiliation of not finishing the Christian life and being defeated in it, make sure you consider just what it is going to cost you. It may cost you everything you have, it may not. The point is – since it may, are you willing to embrace that cost, or end up making a shipwreck of the faith? Have you considered that a disciple is owned by his master – he is not pulled one way by money and possessions and another way by The Lord.

He does not mean that you must avoid coming to Him, He means do not approach something as momentous as following Jesus Christ lightly. He wants to weed out the superficial, light-hearted people who have no real interest in following Christ to the end. He wants to prevent people from coming, who are like that second soil in the Parable of the Sower – who have no root in themselves, and when persecution or trials come, they are offended and wither away. Now you may say, ‘But who on earth is this way? Who loves Christ supremely? Who follows Him single-mindedly? Who holds the world so loosely? Who can possibly keep this standard?’ Though a true believer will have these attitudes at conversion, they will not become perfect actions but by a process of instruction and growth. For this they need discipleship. Being a disciple requires discipleship.

Every believer in the true church is a disciple. Some are more like this portrait than others, but it is Christ’s desire that every believer loves Him supremely, follows Him single-mindedly, and holds this world slackly. For that reason, we need to be discipling one another. Are you willing to yield to this process? Are you willing to be discipled? Are you willing to possibly teach others?


  – David De Bruyn, Professor of Church History, Shepherds’ Seminary Africa

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