The growing disciple of Christ has a new standard for his life. He wants to know what God says through His word and wants to do what he hears God say.
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do,” (James 1:22-25).
This life of obedience, lived by the Spirit as well as out of gratitude for God’s grace, is a proof of love for Jesus,
“Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them,” (John 14:21).
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete,” (John 15:9-11).
Learning submission to the will of God is a true sign that one is a child of God. The Apostle Paul “kicked against the goads” (resisting God’s work) and it took a Damascus Road crisis of life to bring him into not only full submission but also zealous enthusiasm to suffer whatever cost and demands were required to live for, as well as to proclaim, Christ.
Living under grace means that the disciple strives to please the Lord. He does not abuse grace in such a way as to live a life of license (freedom to sin). In my early Christian days, the student who invested in my growth confessed to me that the year before, when he became a Christian, he continued to sleep with his girlfriend. But then he clarified his statement – he had been a “pagan” (unrestrained unbeliever) all of his life, but didn’t know it was wrong to sleep with his girlfriend. Once he was told what that the Bible says sex outside of marriage is sin, he instantly repented and obeyed God’s Word. He responded wholeheartedly to the Word of God. That submissive attitude is an attribute of a true disciple!
Rod Culbertson is presently Associate Professor of Practical Theology and Dean of Student Development at the Charlotte, North Carolina campus of Reformed Theological Seminary. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Carolina and received the Master of Divinity degree from Columbia International University. He married his wife, Cathy, in 1979 and they have 4 grown children. Ordained in the Presbyterian Church in America, Rod served at the University of Florida as a campus minister with Reformed University Fellowship for almost 10 years, having begun that work in 1980. In 1990, Rod and Cathy moved their family to Clearwater, Florida where the Lord used them to start a new PCA church, Christ Community Presbyterian. Rod and his family came to Reformed Theological Seminary/Charlotte in 1994. Rod has earned a Doctor of Ministry degree at RTS and teaches courses in Leadership, Pastoral Ministry, Evangelism and Discipleship, among others.