Saintly Disciples

Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.                                                             Ephesians 4:14-15 NLT

In his book Of God and Men A. W. Tozer makes this telling statement: “The fact is that we are not producing saints. We are making converts to an effete type of Christianity that bears little resemblance to that of the New Testament. The average Bible-Christian in our times is but a wretched parody of true sainthood” (9).

When I read those words, a truism occurred to me: holiness and discipleship are inseparable. What ought to be the goal of our discipleship programs? Saints. It is impossible to be a true disciple without being made holy, that is, like God. Likewise, to be holy – cleansed of self-interest – must issue in discipleship. But sadly, the two concepts are often treated, and thought of, in hermetically sealed compartments.

But what does Jesus mean when he says, “Go into all the world and make disciples”? He means that we should make people holy, peoples ­­­whose desires, whose affections, whose goals, whose focus, is to be like Jesus, to act as he does, to do what he does, to want what he wants. Is that possible unless we allow the Holy Spirit to make our divided wills one? Of course not! Discipleship without holiness is an impossibility. Similarly, holiness must be the Spirit-enabled reproduction of the nature, the character, and the behavior of Jesus in a person, in short, a disciple.

Is the goal of our churches to create saints? It should be.

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