How do Christians fail in their Christian walks? I often ponder how there can be such a disconnect with believers who are forgiven, redeemed, have a new heart, and have the Holy Spirit to empower and equip their lives. Peter was discipled by Jesus for three years, yet Jesus often saw the disconnect in Peter’s life. Volumes could be written on this question, but I want to touch on three points from Jesus’ question to Peter that might help Christians move from being a participant in Christianity to becoming a fully devoted follower of Jesus.
First, we can learn from Peter’s disconnect with Jesus. Throughout Jesus’ ministry Peter displayed a false direction with Jesus’ purposes and ways by reacting in his flesh rather than spiritually processing and living in Jesus’ ways. Some examples are in Matthew 16:23, John 13:38, and John 13:8. Peter was a man passionate about Jesus but too often relied on the flesh. Knowing truth and living in the truth are two different things. As Christians we must vigilantly guard against living in the flesh by remaining in Jesus as He teaches in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.”
Second is to establish Christians in their new faith. Jesus, when speaking to Peter in today’s verse, used the word “lamb”. Just as a child flounders in life without being established in how to live, so a new Christian flounders without being established in his/her faith. We are reaching a critical level in the church today where Christian truth is being taught by teachers who have never learned to live out truth in the power of the Spirit. Christianity is not about imparting knowledge, but about the Holy Spirit powerfully living truths through you. 1 Corinthians 4:20 emphasizes living this way: “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” Living the Christian life by hearing great amounts of knowledge without living it through the power of the Holy Spirit is a wreck waiting to happen.
Third is to disciple Christians to live victoriously in the faith. In the next four verses, Jesus addresses Peter twice using “sheep” instead of ‘lamb”. Christians today are in a perpetual state of living the Christian life by studying, reading, and listening about Christian truth – all of which are good; but this does not necessarily help you to live in and experience God. God wants you to grow to maturity by being fruitful. Hebrews 5:13-14 explains: “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” Maturity in Christ is best defined by a person’s fruitfulness – your ability to live out God’s truths. That is why Jesus defined a disciple the way He did in John 15:8: “This is to My Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples.” Don’t just be a vessel of God in bringing someone into saving relationship with Christ, but also shepherd them to become followers of Christ who actively live in the power of Christ. Jesus did not want His followers to be known by their attendance at church and the Bible studies they completed but as those who pursued God in a passionate, intimate way. The living Christ brings life to our spirit and fruitfulness to our walk with Him. God calls every Christian to be fruitful in witnessing, discipling others, and ministry.
Jesus knew the importance of establishing and discipling future Christians. The eternal destinies of all depended on discipleship to complete His mission. Jesus is asking every Christian today three questions: “Do you love Me?” “Are you willing to feed My lambs?” “Are you willing to shepherd or tend My sheep?” Positively answering these three questions will help save the lives of countless people, establish the faith of new believers so they can experience the abundant life promised in John 10:10, and train, direct, equip, and hold Christians accountable in their journeys to being fully devoted followers of Jesus who are producing abundant fruit for Him.
1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Do you know someone who needs this message on fully committing their life to Christ? Click below to forward or read this devotion.
Here are some Bible studies from Growing in Christ to help your transformative experience: “Discipleship” and “Your Life in Christ.”