Discipleship


Multiply by ChanDisciples make disciples. Though this three word sentence is as clear as a cloudless sky and given by Jesus in one of the clearest passages of Scripture (Matt. 28:19), it has been one of the most largely undeveloped and neglected aspects of church and Christian life. That is, disciples of Jesus Christ are not so adept at making new converts to Christ into disciples of Christ. While some groups can be very productive in evangelism, that is often where it stops and thus the church is filled with undiscipled disciples of Christ. Granted, once one becomes an adopted child of God they are a disciple of Christ in its most bare sense of the word. However, being a disciple of Christ is not merely a static state of existence one has in relation to Christ once saved. Rather, it is a dynamic relationship that is growing. Thus, discipleship is properly a description of the ongoing growth of a self-identified disciple of Christ.

This idea of disciples making disciples is the passion behind the new book Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples by Francis Chan and Mark Beuving. Chan and Beuving’s desire is to help believers understand what it means to be a disciple (follower) of Jesus Christ. The goal of discipleship is to be like the person you are following. For the Christian that is Christ. “That’s the whole point of being a disciple of Jesus: we imitate Him, carry on His ministry, and become like Him in the process.” (p. 16)

Though disciples are individuals, discipleship is not accomplished individually. “The proper context for every disciple maker is the church. It is impossible to make disciples aside from the church of Jesus Christ.” (p. 51) After all, how would one fulfill and be a recipient of the over 50 “one another” passages in the New Testament on their own outside of the local church? Further, if disciples are to obey the command of Christ to make disciples of all nations, they cannot do that one their own. Discipleship happens in the life of the individual within the life of the church.

While discipleship for the follower of Christ happens within the local church, it is not merely contained within the local church. Growing disciples of Christ will naturally develop an outward focus on the world around them. This is how the church fulfills the great commission to make disciples of very nation. As unbelievers are evangelized and brought within the local church for discipleship, they in turn are driven to evangelize others so that they too might become disciples of Christ and being their discipleship journey within the local church as well. The authors rightly point out:

We are called to make disciples, and strengthening the other members of the church body is an important part of this. But if we are not working together to help the unbelieving world around us become followers of Jesus, then we are missing the point of our salvation. God blessed Abraham so that He could bless the world through him (Gen. 12). (p. 74)

So the natural question that arises is “What does discipleship look like?” Finding root in Matt. 28:20, “Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you,” Chan and Beuving spend the rest of the book (about 230 pages worth of it) discussing how to study the Bible and the content of the biblical story line. So, what is all important to discipleship is knowing Scripture since it is within Scripture that we find all that Jesus has commanded His disciples.

After giving a brief introduction to basic Bible interpretation principles, the authors spend the bulk of the book walking from Genesis to Revelation and drawing out the redemptive biblical story line. I will not rehash it but it is divided into the Old and New Testaments and follows the Creation, Fall, Redemption and Consummation structure while filling out much of the redemptive portion. With this the book ends. What might become readily apparent to those who are more familiar with books on discipleship is that Chand and Beuving have taken a markedly different approach to discussing what discipleship looks like. Most books on discipleship cover the typical topics of prayer (though this is touched on), Bible study, the fruits of the Spirit and the like while not addressing the issue of the whole message of the Bible. This may be because most discipleship books are geared towards (though not always stated as such) Christians who have been saved for a while but are looking for more growth in these areas. Chan and Beuving have perhaps shifted their focus (though it is not stated) more towards new Christians who have not been reading their Bibles and would not be familiar with the overall message of Scripture.

Since the content of Multiply seems to be driven in this direction the book is more for new Christians rather than seasoned ones. And that is fine because for new believers this is an excellent resource. In fact, the book is accompanied by a series of videos you can find online at www.multiplymovement.com. Here you can listen to each chapter read aloud. In addition, there is a corresponding video for each chapter in the book in which Chan and David Platt discuss the content of the chapter. As such, Multiply is designed not just for individuals to read on their own but to go through with others in a group with a leader.

Multiply is a great book to get into the hands of new believers. There is nothing worse than seeing a person commit their lives to be a disciple of Christ to only sputter along in their Christian life never really growing as a disciple of Christ. This book provides a needed tool to help new believers understand their identity as disciples, get properly oriented within the context of the local church as the place their discipleship takes place and to get an early grasp on the message of Scripture so they can understand all that Christ has commanded them. I recommend buying several copies of this book to have ready to give to new believers!

NOTE: I received this book for free from David C Cook and was under no obligation to provide a favorable review.

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I remember sitting in my church history class and my professor asking us if we had ever read Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion. In a class of about 15 students no one raised their hands. He went on to tell us that most Christians have never read it and yet everyone seems to think they know for sure what Calvin believed. It was at that moment I decided I would be one of those rare Christians and read the complete 1,500 page two volume work edited by John T. McNeil and translated by Ford Lewis Battles. Though it took me the better part of two years to complete I was better for having read it. Having read it I will attest to the fact that many Christians misunderstand Calvin because they have not done the  hard but rewarding work of reading this great work and no one can claim to understand Calvin until they have.

Tim Keller writes at the TGC blog about his journey this year in reading through the Institutes. After drawing on some things he has observed while reading the Institutes (all of which I can attest to being true having read it myself) he closes with this thought:

Last (and here our modern evangelical terminology fails us) Calvin’s writings are astonishingly “doxological.” We might be tempted to say “inspirational” or “devotional” or “spiritual,” but to use such Hallmark greeting card phrases doesn’t do them justice. Calvin’s writings don’t read at all like a theological treatise, but like a man’s meditating on the Scripture before God. The language is filled with reverence and awe, and often tenderness. That means that, despite the close reasoning of so many parts of the material, Calvin was all about the heart.

Indeed, he taught that our biggest problem is there. “For the Word of God is not received by faith if it flits about in the top of the brain, but when it takes root in the depth of the heart . . . the heart’s distrust is greater than the mind’s blindness. It is harder for the heart to be furnished with assurance [of God’s love] than for the mind to be endowed with thought.” (III.2.36)

To furnish our hearts with more of that assurance is the ultimate purpose of the Institutes, and I can say, personally, that it is fulfilling its purpose in me this year.

In the famous words of Saint Augustine – tolle lege – take up and read! Get your copy of the Institutes of the Christian Religion from Amazon or WTS.

“We live at a time in which Christians are more consumer driven than truth driven. We have unknowingly become apprentices to the blind guides of hedonism, naturalism, and pragmatism, and this is eroding our ability and motivation to communicate and embody the Word of God in this generation” (Preface)

In his groundbreaking book, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, Mark Noll made one of the most devastating assessments of Evangelicalism when he said,”The Scandal of the Evangelical mind is that there is no Evangelical mind.” Since then, those words have haunted Evangelicalism and in many ways been the wake up call to a renewal for Christians to love God with their minds as well as hearts. For too long Christian thought retreated behind closed doors where it grew stale among dust and cobwebs.

There has however, been a spark of life in the Evangelical mind. There have been many who have rightly called Christians to reclaim the gift of the mind for the glory of God. Hopefully, Noll is less right than he was almost twenty years ago in regards to the absence of the Evangelical mind.

Following a long train of books calling Christians to love God with their minds, Jonathan Morrow has recently written a book urging Christians to apply their minds in a quest for applying God’s truth to contemporary culture. Think Christianly: Looking at the Intersection of Faith and Culture is a balance between Christians taking their faith seriously in their own lives, the church and the world and then bringing God’s truth to bear on all of life before a watching world.

The Biblical Call for Engagement

If the Christian faith is to intersect with culture than there must be some sort of engagement with it. This is precisely what Morrow is seeking to explore. How does a thinking Christianity engage the culture? The Biblical impetus for this cultural engagement is found in Colossians 4:5-6:

Walk in Wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (ESV)

These words are written for all believers and all believers are in culture. All Christians live in culture but not all Christians actively engage culture with the mind to apply God’s truth to it. This is a responsibility for all Christians. Morrow helpfully gives four ways in which Christians relate to culture.

  1. Condemning culture – In this regard, Christians condemn the sinful practices within culture such as porn, global slave trade, misuse of natural resources, rejection of the poor and abortion.
  2. Critiquing culture – Here, Christians analyze cultural mediums such as art. This critique should not be condemning but should offer helpful ways in which to improve the form and think about its effects upon others.
  3. Consuming culture – This would involve owning and using cultural products such as cell phones or computers. These are natural products of cultural advancement and growth. Christians should still think about their use of these products but they are not bad in themselves.
  4. Copying culture – There are some products of culture that the church can use to advance the gospel of the Kingdom of God. Using media like the radio and t.v. have been staples for Christians. With the advent of social media, Christians have been able to get the gospel out to more and more people.

These four basic ways in which Christians engage culture show us that culture is not inherently evil. But neither is all of it good. Christians must think about their involvement and always evaluate their involvement with it according the the gospel.

A Foundation for Engagement

Since Christians are to engage culture, then we must be ready to do so. There is no excuse for sloppy thinking or haphazard approaches to fighting at the intersection of faith and culture. What Christians need to realize is that Christianity, because, rightly understood, it is based on God’s truth, speaks to all of live. It is a worldview that actually addresses every area of human existence and thought. It is a comprehensive worldview.

In order to bring the Christian worldview to bear on all of live through cultural engagement, Christians must have a handle on both  the Christian worldview and the competing secular worldviews. Knowledge of competing worldviews makes for more honest assessment or it and more persuasive interaction with it. Knowing the thought process of your enemies is half the battle to defeating them. Similarly, Christians must know the ins and outs of their own worldview. There is nothing worse than an ill-prepared soldier. It is wrong to represent the gospel unprepared to show how it relates to the basic areas of life.

The greatest example loving and truthful cultural engagement is that of Jesus. Though Jesus said plenty about the future, he also said a lot that pertained to the present. During His 3 year earthly ministry He was always with people. He always knew what each person needed. Whether teaching, loving, rebuking or challenging, Jesus engaged the culture and its thinking with the truth of the gospel.

Areas of Engagement

Taking our call to engage the culture and prepare for it are not enough. We must actually do it. Morrow has given himself a tall order with this third section of the book as he succinctly presents and addresses a number of issues within the culture in which Christians have an answer and need to give it.These issues range from issues surrounding the Bible itself, sex, the media, global justice, politics and science and faith.

Morrow ably sets up the issues at hand and give clear, thoughtful, helpful and direct answers to how the Christian faith speaks to each issue he addresses. Though each chapter is short, and each issue could be addressed within the span of its own book, Morrow’s answers are not simplistic but rather pack a powerful punch that any Christian should be willing to claim as their own.

In my opinion, this third section of the book is the strongest section. Every Christian will learn from Morrows example of hos to think and apply Biblical truth to every area of culture. Morrow does not shy away from the hard issue and questions. He is decidedly against the Bible supporting homosexuality and yet he addresses the issue with sensitivity and love. He is against idolizing creation through our caring of it yet rightly states that humans are the pinnacle of God’s creation and not to be valued as less than it. He does not minimize the tension in our society and the church between science and faith and provides a thoughtful and honest evaluation of the current debate.

Think Christianly is a helpful book in many ways. It is both a short introduction to the concept of worldview, a short introduction to the Christian worldview and best of all it is a model for how the Christian worldview provides answers to the questions being asked and the issues being grappled with in our culture. I highly recommend this book!

NOTE: I received this book from Zondervan for free in exchange for a review and was under no obligation to provide a favorable one. The thoughts and words expressed in this review are my own.

Within the last ten years or so it has been the habit of publishers to make books in dictionary form that are dedicated to a particular subject, person or idea that has within it a multitude of words, concepts and ideas. Some of these are broad like the Old Testament and others are more specific like Paul. Since many of these dictionaries deal with subjects like hermeneutics, theology or backgrounds they naturally carry with them a more academic feel though the layperson can greatly benefit from them.

The Dictionary of Christian Spirituality is the newest in a long line of needed and useful dictionaries. As a book that centers on Christian spirituality, and therefore the Christian life, it is a book that will benefit a broad range of believers beyond the pastor, student and theologian. This is a book that every Christian can benefit from both in their knowledge of Christian spirituality and in their growth as a Christian.

As the title indicates this is a book about spirituality within the Christian tradition. As such there is plenty of material not covered on the topic of spirituality. This is by no means a downfall as the book is seeking to service Christians in their walk with the true and living God.

Before this book even gets to the dictionary part for which it was made it deals with a number of necessary introductory issues. The idea and Biblical basis for Christian spirituality are laid out. The various methods of Christian spirituality are presented with pros and cons. Two chapters deal with spirituality in both testaments. Several chapters deal with the triune nature of God and the role each member of the trinity plays in the Christians life. A number of chapters provide a brief overview of the history and development of Christian spirituality beginning with the early church to the present. Many of the key aspects of the spiritual life are discussed such as the role of prayer, experience, music and the arts and church liturgy.

Borrowing from Aumann, John Coe sets forth the following as a definition of Spiritual theology:

Spiritual theology is that part of theology that brings together (1) a study of the truths of Scripture with (2) a study of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the experience of human beings (3) in dependence on the illuminating work of the indwelling Christ, in order to (a) define the nature of this spiritual life in Christ, (b) explain the process of growth by which persons advance from he beginning of the spiritual life to its full perfection in the next life, and (c) formulate directives for spiritual growth and development (38).

Setting up this definition Coe offers four implications for the study of Christian spirituality. First, despite the often esoteric, mythical and subjective idea of spirituality as found in many religions, Christian spirituality stems from a revealed faith. God defines Christian spirituality and not man. Second, Christianity derives its theology of spirituality and the spiritual life from a revealed base – namely, Scripture. As such, the nature and outworkings of Christian spirituality are not left to the person themselves but are grounded in and guided by the revealed word of God in Scripture. Third, inherent in the word spiritual is reference to the Spirit of God Himself. Spirituality for the Christian is an interest in the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. In this sense, the only true spirituality is Christian spirituality. Finally, foundational to the work of the Spirit in the life of the believer is the Spirit’s preparing of a persons heart and mind for the work of the Word in bringing spiritual growth. This preparing starts with initial salvation and continues in the life of the believer as they grow in their spiritual walk.

The Dictionary of Christian Spirituality is a great addition to ones personal library of spiritual works. It is a broadly evangelical work not just by the wide range of denominational representatives who contributed but it also seeks to tie in the contribution of Christians outside North America. The first 240 pages provide the reader with much needed and useful information and enriching discussion on the multifaceted nature of Christian spirituality. One stand out aspect of this work is that it draws on and connects Christian spirituality with many of the major doctrines of Scripture such as the doctrine of man, sin, the church and the end times. Most fundamentally is the relating of Christian spirituality with the triune nature of God. Simon Chan contends that “spiritual theology may be understood as the exploration of the nature of life in relation to the Trinitarian economy (p. 53).” Thus, the spiritual life is the exploration of the persons “relation to the distinct works of the persons of the Trinity (53).”

The dictionary portion of the book itself includes entries that fall under a number of categories:

  1. Christians known for their work on spiritual theology like Francis of Assisi and Jonathan Edwards.
  2. Spiritual disciplines like prayer, meditation and reading.
  3. Christian denominational spiritualities like Fundamentalist Spirituality and Reformed (Calvinist) Spirituality.
  4. Spiritualities of other religions such as Hindu Spirituality and Nature Mysticism.

It was Lovelace who coined the term “the sanctification gap” which as Coe defines it is “a gap that exists in the minds of many believers between what they know to be the goal of sanctification and growth, the spiritual ideal clearly set forth in the Bible, and where they actually know they are in their lives (p. 37).” It is an effort to aid the church in filing this gap that the Dictionary of Christian Spirituality exists. At the end of each chapter in the beginning of the book is a list of books for further study on the given subject. These suggestions will greatly aid the reader in gaining a better grasp of the spiritual life as defined by the Christian faith.

NOTE: I received this book for free and am under no obligation to provide a favorable review.

Bible reading and prayer are two of the most important Christian practices to aid the believer in their spiritual growth. Of the two, Bible reading seems to be more central as it should inform our prayers and it gives us what we need for life and godliness. Central to the practice of Bible reading is discipleship.

In One to One Bible Reading: A Simple Guide for Every Christian David Helm seeks to provide an easy plan for making Bible reading a central and foundational tool for discipleship growth. David explains:

Reading One to One is a variation on that most central Christian activity – reading the Bible – but done in the context of reading with someone. It is something a Christian does with another person, on a regular basis, for a mutually agreed upon length of time, with the intention of reading through  and discussing a book or part of a book of the Bible (p. 11).

David believes that this practice of reading the Bible one-to-one is for everyone whether you are a non-Christian or seasoned believer (p. 17-19) and getting started is as easy as asking someone to join you (p. 21-25).

Throughout the book David clearly lays out the what, why and how of reading the Bible one-to-one. David gives many helpful hints and strategies for how to make your one-to-one Bible readings have their maximum effect in the lives of the participants.

David presents two models for one-to-one Bible reading. The first is the Swedish method. This method is more for beginners. Among its seven stages of discussion time, it is centered on three steps to gleaning truth from your Bible reading: (1) A light bulb – anything that stands out from the passage, (2) A questions mark – things that are hard to understand and (3) An arrow – things that apply to the readers life personally. The second model is called COMA. COMA stands for Context, Application, Meaning and Application. This method can be used by beginners but is geared towards more seasoned believers and Bible readers.

In the final chapters of the book Helm spends time laying out some set reading schedules for one-to-one readings for a number of books. For example, Helm sections reading through Colossians as follows:

  1. Colossians 1:1-14
  2. Colossians 1:15-23
  3. Colossians 1:24-2:5
  4. Colossians 2:6-15
  5. Colossians 2:16-23
  6. Colossians 3:1-4
  7. Colossians 3:5-17
  8. Colossians 3:18-4:1
  9. Colossians 4:2-18

In chapter 10 Helm provides a helpful overview of how to read different genres of the Bible. Following the COMA reading method, Helm goes through each genre of the Bible showing the kinds of questions to ask of each genre.

In book concludes with an eight week outline of Mark for readers to get a start on one-to-one Bible reading. The appendix points readers to other helpful resources for successful one-to-one Bible reading programs.

One to One Bible Reading is a great tool to help you hit the ground running during what will hopefully be your first of many one-to-one Bible readings. This is a short easy read that simplifies one-to-one Bible reading so first timers don’t run in despair after the first chapter.

If you found this review helpful can you take a minute to give it a positive vote on Amazon?

Mark 2:14 says, “And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he arose and followed him (ESV).”  It is here that “Jesus summarizes His call to discipleship (p. 25).” So what does it mean to follow Jesus? This is what Jonathan Lunde seeks to answer in his book Following Jesus, The Servant King: A Biblical Theology of Covenantal Discipleship.

The title of the book is loaded with meaning making a brief explanation of the words and phrases necessary. As Jesus he calls people to follow him as their leader.  As Servant Jesus “has come to serve, and give his life a ransom for many (Mk. 10:45).” Throughout Jesus’ ministry Jesus is seen serving various kinds of people culminating with His death on the cross as fulfilling the role of the suffering servant of Isaiah 53. As King Jesus gives commands to His disciples which “mirror the relationship God had with Old Testament Israel (p. 26).” Jesus is the promised Davidic king who rules His disciples and makes sure “God’s covenantal stipulations were upheld in the nation (p. 26).” As a biblical theology Lunde explores discipleship as the theme progressively unfolds from the OT to NT. Finally, as a covenantal discipleship, Lunde explores the overall meaning of discipleship through the lens of the covenants (Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic & New Covenant). This covenantal discipleship is defined as,

Learning to receive and respond to God’s grace and demand, which are mediated through Jesus, the Servant King, so as to reflect God’s character in relation to him, to others, and to the world, in order that all may come to experience this same grace and respond to this same demand (p. 276).

On the grand scale the book is structured around answering three questions. First, “why should I be concerned to obey all of Jesus’ commands if I have been saved by grace (p. 28)?” If Jesus has fulfilled the righteousness of the Law for me then why does He give me any commands to follow? Lunde seeks to counter both “lackadaisical” and “legalistic” disciples (p. 30). Second, “what is it that Jesus demands of his disciple (p. 29)?” To answer this question Lunde focuses on a few of the many commands Jesus gives as a means of providing examples for how to understand them all. Finally, “how can the disciple obey Jesus’ high demand, while experiencing his ‘yoke’ as ‘light’ and ‘easy’ (p. 30?)” Obeying commands seems to be such a burden so how can Jesus say his “yoke is easy” and his “burden is light” (Matt. 11:30)?

Answering the Why Question – Why should I be concerned to obey all of Jesus’ commands if I have been saved by grace?

The answer to the Why question is found in the biblical covenants. Lunde goes through the covenants five times in order to explain the basic relationship disciples have with Jesus. After defining both grant and conditional covenants (p. 39-40), Lunde introduces the reader to the basic content of the biblical covenants. Here Lunde sets the “gracious context in which each covenant is established”, he explores “the demands that God places on those who enter into covenant with him” and he explains how “faith and works of obedience relate to reception of the blessings” of each covenant (p. 42). While explaining the relationship that disciples have with the covenants, Lunde also gives us a glimpse into how Jesus ultimately fulfills the demands and works out the tension of faith and works of obedience within the covenants. This “climactic fulfillment” is displayed in Jesus’ fulfillment of the New Covenant (p. 111). Lunde explains:

While the grace that has come through Jesus is deeper and wider and higher and better than any of the gracious provisions in the prior covenants, it is at the same time continuous with those prior expressions, even as their fulfillment (p. 111).

The ultimate implication of Jesus’ covenantal fulfillment for his disciples is that

Those who are led by the Spirit will inevitably produce the fruit of the Spirit and fulfill the law of Christ. As Spirit-enabled New Covenant partners, those who follow him ought to be continually concerned regarding obedience to all of Jesus’ covenantal commands (p. 113).

Answering the What QuestionWhat is it that Jesus demands of his disciple?

The means through which Lunde answers the What question is by exploring the “ways in which the covenantal demands are mediated to us through Jesus (p. 115).” Here Jesus’ role as King and Prophet come to the forefront. As Prophet Jesus provides authoritative teaching (Matt. 14:15; 21:46) and acting (Matt. 5:21-48). Further, the Father Himself commands Peter, James and John to “Listen to him! (Matt. 17:5).” As the Prophet King Jesus authoritatively summons us to discipleship. Lunde states,

Jesus commands his hearers to follow him as the embodiment of God’s kingly reign over them. He is indeed the Prophet, but his prophetic cloak is worn under his royal mantel, as was David’s before him (Acts 2:30). As David’s great heir who reigns faithfully as Yahweh’s Anointed King, then, Jesus appropriately summons us to an absolute discipleship (p. 123).

To help us see how Jesus mediates the law to us Lunde employs three metaphors that “characterize the distinct ways in which Jesus has brought the law to its fulfillment (p. 127).”

First, Jesus is the Filter. That is, He fulfills certain aspects, commands and practices of the Law “rendering the continuation of their practice inappropriate (p. 128).” For example, Jesus fulfills the sacrificial system (Matt. 26: 17-29; Heb. 7-10), the Food Laws in Mark 7:19-23 (p. 132), circumcision by fulfilling the New Covenant promise (p. 137 – 1 Cor. 7:19; Gal. 5:6) and the Divorce law (p. 138). That Jesus fulfills these laws is not to be seen as an excuse for a disciple to become slack in his life. “What continues on in each case is a summons to a life of righteousness befitting the New Covenant era, to which each superseded element was pointing all along (p. 140).”

Second, Jesus is the Lens.  As the Lens, Jesus “brings back into focus an aspect of the law” and strips away the traditions the religious rulers made “as he reestablishes and recovers the law’s teaching so that its original intent and demand might be perceived (p. 141).” For example, Jesus brings into focus the intent of the Greatest commandments (Matt. 22:34-40) over against the rabbis quibbling over what were the weightier and lighter aspects of the law.

Third, Jesus is the Prism. As a prism, “Jesus demands the heightened righteousness befitting the era in which the covenants have come to their fulfillment (p. 154-56).”  Lunde walks through Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew and repeatedly shows how Jesus raises the bar for New Covenant disciples in relation to the commands.

Answering the How QuestionHow can the disciple obey Jesus’ high demand, while experiencing his ‘yoke’ as ‘light’ and ‘easy’?

As the ultimate fulfiller of the New Covenant, Jesus has inaugurated the Kingdom on earth here and now (Matt. 11-12). However, this Kingdom is not complete and so New Covenant believers look forward to the completion of the Kingdom (p. 188). There is both “this age” and “the age to come”. Though the promise of the Spirit has come and we are receiving the blessings of the New Covenant, the present state of the Kingdom is not the intended fulfillment of the completed Kingdom pictured by the Prophets (p. 190). Recognizing this tension Lunde says, “Since the kingdom has only been inaugurated in Jesus’ coming, we should not be surprised if some of the aspects of the New Covenant initiated by Jesus are similarly only inaugurated (p. 192).”

One of the key ways in which covenant disciples can fulfill the high righteous demands of Jesus is by living in the grace that He has provided prior to the demands. It is this

Prior and sustaining grace, in all of its forms, is always to be understood as the enabling context in which God’s demands are to be responded to. That is, covenant faithfulness will only be possible as disciples experience the enabling power of grace (p. 195).

We can accomplish this by living the three-fold pattern found in the Mosaic Covenant: (1) “the frequent remembrance of God’s provision” (motivation for obeying the Law – Deut. 6:12; 8:2, 7-18), “the present celebration of the reception of those provisions” (part of the purpose for Sabbath keeping – Ex. 31:16-17a; Ex. 20:8-11; Deut. 5:12-15) both of which lead to “the enabled response of obedience and faithfulness (part of the purpose for the Festivals – Ex. 12:15-27; Deut. 16:9-11; Num. 29:1-6; Lev. 23).

There a four concluding actions that Jesus performs that enable us to get a better picture for how Jesus fulfills the New Covenant promises as they relate to the How question.  First, Jesus is the covenantal Representative. Jesus is the mediatorial New Covenant representative as he identifies with Israel through his baptism (p. 216 – Matt. 3) and reenacts Israel’s history in his wilderness wandering (p. 219 – Matt. 4). Second, Jesus is the Redeemer. Jesus acts as redeemer by fulfilling the prophecies in Isaiah, namely Isaiah 51-65. Finally, Jesus is the Restorer. As the restorer, Jesus begins the restoration of Israel (Ezek. 39:27-28; Matt. 9:35-11:1; Matt. 28:18-20). For Lunde, Jesus restores by

Reconstituting Israel without attempting to recover the former definition of its makeup. Membership in this restored nation, therefore, does not fall along tribal lines. Rather, this is determined solely by the response to Jesus’ call to discipleship. Israel is being reconstituted and redefined at the same time. In this way, God’s promises to Abraham that he would be both the conduit of blessing to the nations and the father of many nations are coming to their fulfillment through Jesus. Since Jesus is the true Son, true Israel is being defined Christologically (p. 245)!

Lunde closes his book with some implications for what it means to follow Jesus as a covenantal disciple. Disciples are in covenant relationship with Jesus. Jesus the Servant King has graciously paved the way for us to be able to live up to the demands of this relationship as the Spirit enables us. Since Jesus has inaugurated his kingdom, Jesus summons us “to enter into this kingdom (p. 279).” This has implications for our evangelism (p. 279-80), for how we actually do discipleship as a church (p. 283-85) and how we provide resources to disciples (p. 286).

Some Observations

First, while the book is intended to be a biblical theology of discipleship it is heavily rooted in the OT where most of the references and quotes come from. As a biblical theology I would have liked to see more interaction with the NT. Second, related to my first concern, as great as this book is, I think it provides us with more of a foundational understanding of the nature of discipleship. That is, that discipleship needs to be rooted in our covenantal relationship with Jesus. The book is more about Jesus’ relationship to us as servant, king, prophet, redeemer, restorer and representative to and for us than it is about what our discipleship looks like every day in light of those things. Finally, Lunde does take the position that what is traditional interpreted as The Abrahamic covenant in Gen. 15 & 17 is actually two separate covenants with Abraham each focusing on separate promises and yet related (p. 55, 75 & 93). Readers will have to grapple with whether or not they agree with Lunde.

I think Lunde hits a home run by rooting our identity as disciples within covenantal context. God relates to his people through covenants and it is through those covenants that he both promises salvation and accomplishes it through Jesus. Jesus is the ultimate fulfiller and mediator of those covenantal promises. God makes covenants with his people (both Israel & the Church) so it makes sense that as individual disciples we covenantally relate to God through Christ. This covenantal discipleship provides the foundation for our relationship to Jesus the Servant King as his disciples.

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