Theme: Whoever Will May Come
This week’s lessons impress upon us the importance that one cannot be a true Christian without being a genuine disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Scripture: Luke 5:31, 32
Yesterday we looked at submission and commitment as elements of discipleship. We now come to the final element.
5. Perseverance. The final important element in following Christ, the most basic expression of the call to discipleship, is perseverance. This is because following is clearly not an isolated act, done once for all, never to be repeated. It is a lifetime commitment which is not fulfilled here until the race is won, the final barrier crossed, the crown received, and it and all other rewards then laid gratefully at the feet of Jesus.
All this is to say that discipleship is not simply a door to be entered but a path to be followed and that the disciple proves the validity of his discipleship by following that path to the very end. David wrote about it in the well-known 119th Psalm. The section of that psalm which begins, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (v. 105) ends, “My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end” (v. 112). That is it! The true disciple is the one who follows Christ to the end of everything.
In the last years of the seventeenth century a great French aristocrat wrote a book on discipleship that has become a classic in this field. At one time the book was publicly burned in France. Yet it has also been received by many millions of Christians who have confessed it to be one of the most helpful books ever written. It was greatly loved by Fenelon, Count Zinzendorf, John Wesley, and Hudson Taylor. This aristocrat was a woman, one of the best-known women in church history. Her name was Madame Jeanne Guyon. Her book bears the title, Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ (in French, Le Moyen Court et Tres Facile de Fair Oraison).
As she wrote this classic, Madame Guyon had a high standard of discipleship in view, but at the same time she was aware that the call to follow Christ was not some circumscribed invitation to be delivered only to a special body of believers, or even to all believers, only as a second step in their religious experience. On the contrary, she saw that discipleship is the essence of faith and that the invitation to come to Christ as a disciple is for all. She wrote:
“If you are thirsty, come to the living waters. Do not waste your precious time digging wells that have no water in them.
“If you are starving and can find nothing to satisfy your hunger, then come. Come, and you will be filled.
“You who are poor, come.
“You who are afflicted, come.
“You who are weighted down with your load of wretchedness and your load of pain, come. You will be comforted!
“You who are sick and need a physician, come. Don’t hesitate because you have diseases. Come to your Lord and show him all your diseases, and they will be healed!
That is the invitation that Christ’s call to discipleship holds for every person. To be a Christian is no light thing. It is a call to a transformed life and to perseverance through whatever troubles may arise to the very end. It is the hardest thing anyone can do. Yet anyone can do it, Christ supplying the necessary strength, and in the end it is the only thing that really matters. Will you take that path of discipleship? The Master is going before you. He is looking back to you with a most compelling gaze. He is saying, “Follow me!”
What does Dr. Boice say is “the most basic expression of the call to discipleship”?
Why does he conclude this?
Key Point: Following Christ “is a lifetime commitment which is not fulfilled here until the race is won, the final barrier crossed, the crown received, and it and all other rewards then laid gratefully at the feet of Jesus.”
Application: If you are growing weary or discouraged in your Christian life, ask the Lord to give you a renewed sense of joy, obedience, and love as you follow and serve him.
For Further Study: The Bible is filled with invitations for sinners to come to Christ. Download for free and listen to the audio sermon from James Boice, “Come! Come!” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)
3Jeanne Guyon, Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ (Goleta, CA: Christian Books, 1981), p. 2. Original edition about 1685.