Vol.XVI No.II Pg.3
April 1979

Deliberate Discipleship

Dan S. Shipley

The deliberate disciple is one who faithfully follows Christ as the result of careful and considered decisions based on New Testament evidence. All that he does in becoming and being a Christian is determined by what he has learned from the word of God. His relationship with the Lord is a deliberated one from its very beginning. As Jesus says, "Every one that hath heard from the Father, and hath learned, cometh unto me" (Jn. 6:45). Men may come to religion without hearing and learning God's truth, but no man can come to the Saviour and salvation without it. This means that Christ does not come to certain men, regardless of their will (predestination) and that men do not come to Christ through their feelings or experiences.

Accordingly, when men get serious about saving their souls, it is a time for careful deliberation on the matter of WHAT IS RIGHT and whether they are willing to submit to it (or, counting the cost, Lk. 14:28). Regrettably, the issue of what- is- right has been largely overshadowed by the question of who -is -right. Settling the former would settle the latter and would go a long way toward eliminating people-oriented religion. Since no man can be right with God without abiding in the doctrine of Christ (2 Jn .9), that must be our sole standard of authority. He who claims the right to rule says that men are to observe all the things He has commanded (Mt. 28:20), and that we will be judged by His words (Jn. 12:48). He who esteems the Lord's precepts to be right (Ps. 110:128) will carefully weigh ALL on the scales of divine truth. Only thusly do believers learn that union with Christ involves repentance, confession and baptism (see Acts 2:38; Rom. 10:10; 6:1-6; Gal. 3: 27). No relationship is more important or more deserving of solemn and careful deliberation. This coming to Christ must be seen as much more than "joining the church" or "getting baptized". Neither is to be a rash act of emotionalism, the importance of which is soon forgotten. A premeditated and carefully thought out decision about coming to Christ initially will make subsequent following much easier.

For instance, deciding — and I mean really deciding! — to make Christ the Lord of one's life eliminates all the "little" decisions that plague weak and halfhearted followers. The matter of whether to be present for Bible classes and worship was settled with the deliberated decision to become a Christian. Those who have to ponder about whether or not they'll resist every little temptation that comes along obviously have never really resolved the basic issue about putting God first in all things — they have never made a deliberated commitment.

Not, of course, that such a commitment would always insure faithfulness — but it certainly would encourage it. In fact, there is no facet of our work and worship that would not be enhanced when prefaced by careful deliberation. Without it there cannot be the sense of purpose that is so vital to our perseverance. The deliberate disciple has his mind made up about serving the Lord. He aims to go to heaven — on purpose!