represented at this Synod enjoy a celebrated history of discipleship to Jesus in this country. Transplanted from the native soil of Presbyterianism in Scotland, both the ARPC and the RPCNA have taken root in North America, spreading the comforting shade of the gospel for centuries in the New World. Therefore, “For Christ’s Crown and Covenant” is the perfect answer to a world that asks, “Why should I deny myself?”

Here, then, is the unchanging principle of all true discipleship, according to our Lord: there will be no rest for our souls until there is death to self.

Daily Cross-Bearing

Daily cross-bearing is a second principle ingredient of true discipleship. Luke’s record of Jesus’s words differs slightly from Matthew’s, though the meaning of both is the same, “Take up your cross daily.” As if to intensify the previous demand, Jesus tells us that cross-bearing must replace self in our lives.  a piece of jewelry or a coffee table adornment for pleasant conversation. They had seen rotting corpses on crosses for most of    Consequently, Jesus makes it clear that death to self is permanent. Discipleship is not a hobby. It is not an addition to an  What do we mean by cross-bearing? Certainly, it may mean that Jesus will call us to give our lives for our faith someday. Jesus’s words are broader than simply martyrdom, as one of my professors at Westminster explained. He captured the mean-  Simply put, cross-bearing means following Jesus into the wilderness Adam left in his wake. The soil frustrates our attempts

- tive option. Nonetheless, the principle holds true that as Jesus calls us to die, he simultaneously calls us to carry.

Decided Discipleship 

and cross-bearing are daily realities, so is following Jesus. There is a one-time decision to be his disciples. Then there are the  There is a climactic feel to this third ingredient, as if everything comes down to this. Will I follow him? Will I offer self on  Jesus has brought us to the point of decision once again. While it lacks the graphic drama of the original scene, his words transport us back to the grizzled prophet Elijah standing beside the smoking altar which had just been visited by supernatural  sounded forth that day: “Do not halt between two opinions. You must decide today if the Lord is God.” (cf 1 Kings 18:20-40) Don’t we all feel this way at some point? We have divided hearts and double minds. For every one step forward in cross- bearing obedience, there are two steps backwards in self-worshipping half-hearted discipleship. The reality of imperfect obedience and indwelling sin makes Jesus’s words all the more urgent. The war against our souls is

 Jesus’s Discipleship and Ours

By this point, despair settles in. Who can do it? Who can destroy the thousand-headed Hydra of self? Who can shoulder the

crosses of life with a cheerful smile? Who can follow the One whose life was one episode of anguish after another? If we’re honest with ourselves, the answer to all of these questions is, “Not I.” And that is exactly right. In placing this call on our lives, Jesus is simultaneously explaining the purpose for his life. He denied himself the glories of heaven so that we would receive them by faith alone in him (Phil 2:9-11). He was tempted, yet never sinned (Heb 4:15), only because we sin so easily and so often. He set his face to go to the cross (Luke 9:51) because we so often shrink back from it. In a word, what he calls us to do, he has already done. Despair now gives way to worship, as we realize that, in our Lord’s call to discipleship, we do not hear the shrill voice of a implacable tyrant, but the sympathetic invitation of a fellow traveler. What we lack, he supplies. Where we fail, he succeeds. This irreversible gospel order of Christ is for us before we are for him strengthens our faith. Now, we see the end and the one

 Now we see that the cross may terrify for a moment, but gives way to the unspeakable glory of the new heaven and new earth. Seen in the light of Christ our substitute, the threefold call of discipleship in Luke 9:23 is a summons to die in order to live,

 

Gabe Fluhrer is the Associate Minister at First Presbyterian Church of Columbia, SC. 8 The Associate Reformed Presbyterian

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