The calling of the church in every culture is to be mission. That is, the work of the church is not to be an agent or servant of the culture. The churches’ business is not to maintain freedom or to promote wealth or to help a political party or to serve as the moral guide to culture. The church’s mission is to be the presence of the kingdom… The church’s mission is to show the world what it looks like when a community of people live under the reign of God.
– Robert Webber, The Younger Evangelicals
Not only is Gospel discipling the very heart of discipleship within churches, it is also the critical issue in the matter of renewal or revival in the church at large.
Dr. Richard Lovelace, in his modern classic work Dynamics of Spiritual Life, asks why the Church must think in terms of what he calls “cyclical renewal” when the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit should allow “continuous renewal”. As he explains his “primary elements of continuous renewal,” they are summarized in what he calls a “depth presentation of the gospel”.
Only a fraction of the present body of professing Christians are solidly appropriating the justifying work of Christ in their lives. … Few know enough to start each day with a thoroughgoing stand upon Luther’s platform: you are accepted, looking outward in faith and claiming the wholly alien righteousness of Christ as the only ground for acceptance, relaxing in that quality of trust which will produce increasing sanctification as faith is active in love and gratitude.
In order for a pure and lasting work of spiritual renewal to take place within the church, multitudes within it must be led to build their lives on this foundation.
This is another way to speak of gospel discipling, and we are seeing evidence of such quiet but deep renewal in ministries in the United States and in other nations.
This is Part 4 of a 5-part series titled Gospel Discipling. This series is taken from an essay by Stephen Smallman, author of Spiritual Birthline and past Executive Director of World Harvest Mission. Some of the content has been edited.
Thanks also to New City Fellowship of St. Louis, who posted Smallman’s essay on their web page.
To read Parts 1-3 click: Introduction; Romans as Model; Gospel & Adoption