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On What Basis Will God Evaluate Our Lives?

*Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from Disciple Making: The Core Mission of the Church

Jesus claimed that following his teachings was foundational for living life as it was intended: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Jesus described himself and his teachings this way:

I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say. (John 12:46–50)

Elsewhere Jesus compared his words and teachings to the foundation of a house.

Merely claiming to follow him and doing great things in his name will not be enough on the day of judgment. Rather, only those who truly build their lives on his teachings will enter the kingdom of heaven.

Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. (Matthew 7:21–24)

Jesus makes it clear: our adherence to his teachings will be the basis by which God will evaluate our lives.

Just before his ascension back to heaven, Jesus committed his words and teachings to his apostles (Matthew 28:18–20). Jesus also promised that God would guide the apostles, ensuring they accurately recalled everything through the Holy Spirit. Notice the following promise.

These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (John 14:24b–26)

According to Jesus, the Holy Spirit would ensure that the disciples be properly taught and remember everything he had told them.

God did not just rely on the impressive memory practices of the ancient people. He guided them and protected the accuracy of Jesus’ teachings by his Holy Spirit.

This is why the first Christians devoted themselves to the apostles’ teachings: these teachings were not just inspirational thoughts but the inspired teachings of Jesus himself!

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (Acts 2:42)

Jesus Christ’s words were God’s final message for the human race.

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. (Hebrews 1:1–2)

At a basic level, a disciple is a student, apprentice, learner. So, yes, at a basic level we look to Jesus as a teacher. Yet Jesus calls us to a much higher level of devotion than we typically give the teachings we study. He calls us to live out the teachings of his kingdom. These teachings are our curriculum for disciple making.

Thankfully, however, Jesus gives us more than just teachings and an expectation to live according to them. He also gives us himself as the model to follow.

Jesus makes it clear: our adherence to his teachings will be the basis by which God will evaluate our lives.

(Excerpted from Bobby Harrington and Scott Sager, Disciple Making: The Core Mission of the Church (Renew.org, 2021). 

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