Last time I blogged, we talked about What your Core Disciple Identity is and Why we need one. Having a solid CDI is a vital component to living a healthy life. This is crucial because everyone operates their life — from the way you manages stress, make or break relationships, choose a career — based on a core identity. It is how you have answered two fundamental questions: Who am I and why am I here?
You are on a personal, sacred journey and yet desire to be connected with others in the journey. You might have tried to involve yourself in a study or get together with a few others to discuss the Bible or a Christian book. It has no doubt helped. Yet I am under no illusion that you have arrived at a spiritual destination that has made you feel complete.
There are 4 implications of our true Core Disciple Identity (CDI). I’m going to give you 2 of the 4 today, but you can read about this more in my book Gospelling Life Together.
The First Implication, in regards to the relational aspect of your new life: You were made for and adopted into Community. God is a community, as Father, Son and Spirit and has been eternally expressing love. The essence of all Christian discipleship is “Faith expressing itself in love” (Gal. 5:6).
The New Testament uses “one another” 100 times in 94 different verses. We are to be “one-anothering” as disciples of Jesus. For instance, we are to “one another” in love (forgiving, not judging, speaking truth), in humility (preferring, submitting, giving deference to) and in serving (hospitality, washing feet, encouraging). Why? Paul makes the case when he wrote to the disciples in the church at Ephesus. “As deeply loved children, live a life of love (emphasis added), just as Christ also loved us and gave Himself up for us…as a sacrifice (My translation).”
The fact that God in Christ, loved us, gave himself for us, and adopted us as his very own (the gospel as good news), has a resultant reality for his disciple: The new mark of a Christian is love. We are not expected to be co-creators of new worlds or new animals. We are to follow his example of love for others in community.
‘We are to love all true Christian brothers in a way that the world may observe. This means showing love to our brothers in the midst of our differences — great or small — loving our brothers when it costs us something, loving them even under times of tremendous emotional tension, loving in a way the world can see…. Love — and the unity it attests to — is the mark Christ gave Christians to wear before the world. Only with this mark may the world know that Christians are indeed Christians and that Jesus was sent by the Father” (Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality, 1970, p.35).
The Second Implication is that you are no longer your own. Paul informs us, via his letter to the disciples in Corinth, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (I Corinthians 6:19).
Before Christ bought you, you were in Adam. He rebelled and brought ruin, alienation and death. You were born into spiritual ruin/alienation/death and were a slave to sin and its desires. You controlled nothing in your destiny. Death was your destiny and there was nothing you could do to stop that fate. God’s curse was upon you.
When Christ came and died on the cross in your place, who you were in Adam died. And when Jesus was raised to life, you were raised too. His resurrection is your resurrection to life. You have now been reconciled to God, and have peace with God because Jesus bought you by his own blood (his death) and has been raised to life. It is all by his grace and grace alone, nothing in what you did or tried to do, no matter how kind your intentions.
Now you are In Christ. You are freed from your enslavement, but you are not your own property to do with as you wish. It is because the Gospel is by sheer grace not by any works of your own means there isn’t anything God can’t ask of you. You belong to Christ, body and soul. Christ is in you. He has clothed you with Himself, removed your personal shame and all it’s destructive results. Because you are bought with His life, death and resurrection, you are free. There is no shame. There is nothing to prove, nothing to fear and nothing to hide. And you are his very own.
This brings us back to Gospelling Life Together. Gospelling together means we remind one another that Christianity isn’t so much about what we have to do for God, but to remind each other of what God has done to rescue us to himself through Jesus. When we remember, we also turn from our self-righting activities and plans. We instead move, by the fight of faith that it has been done, to follow our new direction of life.
At CMM, we believe every leader, man or woman, is created to thrive in life. We use the C.R.O.S.S. Disciple-making, which involves intentional Gospel conversations with focused discussions about one another’s relational, personal, missional, and spiritual life so that each disciple loves, matures, and reproduces — by the Spirit’s power — the way God intends.
We suggest getting a C.R.O.S.S. Gospel Coach to help walk with you through the challenges you’ve never faced before. A Gospel Coach will help encourage and equip you every step along the way.
Click here to learn more about ministry coaching and church coaching today!
Gospelling is the present participle of the word Gospel. It means that the Gospel is active now, presently in life, not simply something that occurred in the past. It is the process of how the Gospel ignites the relational, personal, missional, and spiritual life of the disciple actively and presently.
Today we’re going to focus on the “Why” of discipleship. This is more than a command we are to obey. We disciple because God disciples us with and through the Good News of what Jesus has done and continues to do, and begins with what we were made to be. God relates to us firstly as persons bearing his image. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in love, made us to know him and find our joy and happiness in him. This means:
1. Life has meaning. Life is going somewhere. Our work and mission have meaning.
2. We are being daily Gospelled. Jesus personally came, incarnating himself as a fully human being; he came to rescue and reconciliation; and in his work through his Spirit, he gives life, serves and conforms us into the perfect image of God we were meant to be.
3. Jesus chose you to be his disciple. He has pursued you and made you his disciple and he continues to disciple you, relationally, personally, missionally, and spiritually moment by moment.
4. There is no such thing as making it on our own. We learn and change best in community with others. We need them and they need us. I need to be Gospelled by others because I so easily slip into doubt.
We must tap into the Gospel motivation of why we are Gospelling Life Together and be captivated by Him and the implications of all the good news he brings in everyday life. The thought that Christ not only took our punishment but also grants us his righteousness and inheritance, restoring rightful honor to the Father and then to us, should inspire awe in the heart of every Believer. We have been so loved, forgiven, rescued and empowered! He lives now interceding with the Father on our behalf, to love and give mercy, power and purpose. The Gospel isn’t just to get us forgiven and “saved” but for life now. We can overcome the things in life that work to crush us, enslave us, and kill us. We have been given His Holy Spirit for power to change. It is perfect life on life.
Once we understand the better “Why” of gospelling life — other than simply another command to follow — our next movement is to see and understand our core identity.
Having a solid “Core Identity” is a vital component to living a healthy life because everyone operates their life — from the way you manages stress, make or break relationships, choose a career — based on a core identity. It is how you have answered two fundamental questions: Who am I and why am I here?
Your CDI (Core Disciple Identity) is composed of three parts. Your health as a disciple of Jesus is consistent with the degree you have understood these realities and have integrated these three aspects into your inner being. They form a healthy identity. In fact, I’m certain the health and thriveability in your Christian life is related to the degree that you have incorporated them into your sense of being.
If you would like to read more today, click here to download "Gospel Life of the Church Planter" for just $5 -- OR you can click here to purchase the entire book, "Church Planter Field Manual: Fishing" to learn about disciple-making in the church, team building, developing leaders, and more!
At CMM, we believe every pastor, church planter, ministry leader, and missionary is created to thrive in ministry. We use the C.R.O.S.S. disciple-making, which involves intentional Gospel conversations with focused discussions about one another’s relational, personal, missional, and spiritual life so that each disciple loves, matures, and reproduces — by the Spirit’s power — the way God intends. It is, at a most basic level. We suggest getting a C.R.O.S.S. Gospel Coach to help walk with you through the challenges you’ve never faced before. This type of ministry coaching and/or church coaching will help encourage and equip you every step along the way.
by Dr. Tom Wood
When I was a pastor I was asked on occasion, “Can Christians dance? My answer was, “Well, some can and some can’t. Just look at them on the dance floor and you can tell.”
In reality, all Christians need to learn how to do the Gospel Dance if they hope to see God transform their lives into what God intended originally. Gospel Dance is the three step of sanctification. These steps are in constant, rhythmic motion.
1. The first step in the Gospel Dance is belief (Delight) in the graciousness, goodness, and greatness of God that Christ has done everything for me to make all right with God the Father.
2. The second step of the Gospel dance is a life of repentance (Despair) with an ongoing realization of one’s broken condition, along with a humble admission, “I cannot do this apart from Jesus”, and admission of disbelief and/or disobedience. We also turn from our self-righting activities and plans.
3. The third step is the fight to live by the first two and follow in “obedience that comes from faith” (Direction) to what God has called us to be.
The Christian life is 1-2-3, 1-2-3, believe-repent-fight or Delight, Despair, and Direction. The first or second step of a dance is not the last time you step there. So it is in the Gospel dance. Your first step is to believe. Your second step is repent. You will return to those steps again and again as you follow. This is what it looks like practically:
Engaging the Gospel in Life
How do we work out the Gospel daily? How does it become less of a doctrine and more of a lifestyle?
The Gospel is not so much a truth as it is the fabric of our relationship with God. How does it affect fear and jealousy and worry and envy and discouragement? How does it connect to how we view the hardships of life? At the same time, how does it instruct our joy? How does it connect to the things that give us contentment and satisfaction? Those are the real questions of a Gospel Life.
In these next paragraphs, Martin Luther, one of the fathers of what we now refer to as the Reformation, relates the Gospel to fear, depression (at least that which is not caused by physiological reasons), and what he calls a “troubled conscience”:
“There is a righteousness that the apostle Paul calls ‘the righteousness of faith.’ God imputes it to us apart from our works--in other words, it is passive righteousness...So then, have we nothing to do to obtain this righteousness? No, nothing at all! For this righteousness comes by doing nothing, hearing nothing, knowing nothing, but rather in knowing and believing this only — that Christ has gone to the right hand of the Father, not to become our judge, but to become for us our wisdom, our righteousness, our holiness, our salvation! Now God sees no sin in us, for in this heavenly righteousness sin has no place.
“So now we may certainly think, ‘Although I still sin, I don't despair, because Christ lives, who is both my righteousness and my eternal life.’ In that righteousness I have no sin, no fear, no guilty conscience, no fear of death. I am indeed a sinner in this life of mine and in my own righteousness, but I have another life, another righteousness above this life, which is in Christ, the Son of God.
“Christians never completely understand [this] themselves, and thus do not take advantage of it when they are troubled and tempted. So we have to constantly teach it, repeat it, and work it out in practice. Anyone who does not understand this righteousness or cherish it in the heart and conscience will continually be buffeted by fears and depression. Nothing gives peace like this passive righteousness.
“The troubled conscience has no cure for its desperation and feeling of unworthiness unless it takes hold of the forgiveness of sins by grace, offered free of charge in Jesus Christ, which is this passive or Christian righteousness… Once you are in Christ, the Law is the greatest guide for your life, but until you have Christian righteousness, all the law can do is to show you how sinful and condemned you are. But if we first receive Christian righteousness, then we can use the law, not for our salvation, but for his honor and glory, and to lovingly show our gratitude” (Martin Luther, Preface Commentary on Galatians).
The Basis for our Work as Leaders Operating by the Gospel
Too often we base our justification (made right with God) on our sanctification (ongoing transformation), and not the other way around. In other words, we judge our relationship with God, and the stability and even certainty of that relationship, based on our actions, behaviors, and emotions. This is especially easy to do when you are leading others! The internal and external voices in your life tell you, “It’s up to me to do this.” We subconsciously obey God and follow him, in order to please him and remain in his good standing so he will bless our lives. Or perhaps we do so out of fear of rejection or loss of his protection.
We must base our sanctification (how much we are changing) on our justification, especially as leaders operating by the Gospel. We must live confidently based on the truth of our salvation. In reality, the Christian life is nothing more, and nothing less, than a lifetime of living out the implications of the cross. We are Cross-shaped leaders. The truest thing about us is the fact that we are a loved, adopted, forgiven child of God. For the Gospel shaped leader, all of life, ministry or work is based on that fact.
Only the Gospel, only the truth of the cross, can give us an accurate self-image. Only the Gospel allows us to agree with common phrase: “We are far more sinful than we could imagine, but, at the same time, God is far more loving and forgiving than we could ever dared to have hoped.”
Want to know more about The Gospel Dance? Download your FREE eBook “The Gospel Dance” today!
At CMM, we believe every leader is created to thrive. We suggest getting a C.R.O.S.S. Gospel Coach to help walk with you through the challenges you’ve never faced before. A Gospel Coach will help encourage and equip you every step along the way. Learn more today!
Dr. Tom Wood
I've been in the Church Planting business my entire career. I want you to know, you don't have to plant a church alone!