We talk about the need to be saved. But what does that mean? Why do we need to be saved? What do we need to be saved from? What are we saved for? The popular understanding of salvation that dominates evangelical churches today has little connection with discipleship or life transformation. Dallas Willard once concluded, “Simply put, as now generally understood, being ‘saved’—and hence being a Christian—has no conceptual or practical connection with such a transformation.” For many, being saved is being delivered from the consequences of sin. But too often being saved does not lead one to become the type of person who actually wants to be more like Jesus. We tend to treat the experience of conversion as something entirely separate from the process of becoming a disciple. Discipleship seems to be considered as optional, a choice and not a demand. Yet the Great Commission clearly says “make disciples.”
“When it comes to conversion (salvation) and discipleship, you can’t have one without the other. When George Whitefield was asked how many people were saved in a meeting where he had preached, he answered, “I don’t know. We should know more in six months. .” Bill Hull says, “Some believe you can have conversion without discipleship. I believe that the proof of conversion is discipleship. . . all who are called to salvation are also called to discipleship, and there are no exceptions.”
Salvation is both an event and a process. We are saved, yet we are also being saved. Salvation and discipleship occur when someone answers the call to believe, repent, and unite his life with Christ’s to learn from Jesus how to live his or her life as though Jesus were living it.
A disciple is a person who is:
Following the teachings of Christ
Being changed by Christ
Committed to the mission of Christ
How do we measure up?