Goodbye has never been so Hello old

Walking the Walk

What better way to start your walk with Jesus than to read about the lifelong transformation that changed the lives of His earliest followers as recorded in Scripture. As you begin spending time digging into the collection of historical documents and personal letters preserved in the New Testament you’ll be able to draw out the transformational traits that developed in their lives. You’ll find as you spend time here that the inner working of the Holy Spirit in their lives, through their intentional and repeated choices, resulted in related external actions. The inner choices and changes always precede the actions. These resulting traits will also develop in your own life.


This is the final article in our series. It will require careful and prayerful reading, reflection, perhaps even study and discussion with a close friend or small group. We’ve identified a list of traits that develop in a follower of Christ that’s maturing in discipleship. This list is not exhaustive. You may identify additional traits in your own life experience and as you dig into scripture.

We’ve talked about the inner-life choices that you make in the secret place of your spirit and soul, and how these choices over time will lead to actions, and ultimately the development of traits in your life. Traits are the distinguishing qualities or characteristics that define you. Those specific traits in the life of followers of Jesus – disciples – will include at least these traits we’ve identified below.

As you read the narratives and scripture passages under each trait, draw out of the text the choices that lead to the traits. Compile these choices you identify into a written list. Maybe some of these choices you’ve already been making, and maybe others you’ll need to ask God to help you make them. As you’ve read earlier in our series, the choices are internal, intentional, practical and repeated throughout your life as you grow in discipleship.

It’s a powerful exercise to also speak aloud these traits and related scripture passages (with the pink and blue backgrounds). The effect of speaking aloud these developing qualities about yourself is that you’ll hear yourself proclaiming the truth!

As a follower of Christ

I am Identified with Christ.

“…we too experience the change that happens when shifting from identifying with the world to identifying with Christ… Identity in Christ changes us from the inside out.” – Author Unknown

“[Jesus] has offered us a new identity – His identity. No longer separated from God, but now united with God. No longer stained by sin, but now clean from sin. No longer slaves, but now free. No longer guilty before God as Judge, but now loved by God as Father. No longer deserving eternal death, never to grasp all that God created us to be, but now having eternal life, experiencing more and more exactly who God has created us to be.” – Taken from Counter Culture, Copyright © 2015 by David Platt. 

God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!” – Romans 8:16-17

“What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him.” – Galatians 2:19

“It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.”

“Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ.” 

“You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone.”

“…for you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord…” Ephesians 5:8 (NASB)

“…we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free!”

“Now because of Christ—dying that death, shedding that blood—you who were once out of it altogether are in on everything.”

“I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.” – Philippians 3:8-9


I am Surrendered.

“May not a single moment of my life be spent outside the light, love and joy of God’s presence and not a moment without the entire surrender of myself as a vessel for Him to fill full of His Spirit and His love.” – Andrew Murray

Maybe you’re ready to look in a mirror and speak out this statement to yourself: “It’s not about me anymore… thank goodness! Now it’s all about Jesus!” This is a critical change in your focus. Past failures, weaknesses, attachments, fears and anxieties will lose their power as you change your focus, day-by-day, to Jesus. Less struggling. More surrendering.

“Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in!” – Hebrews 12:2

In exchange, you’re living in your new nature as you’re designed to live, with the life and nature of Christ being formed in you. When you’re becoming free of self, keeping Jesus as your central focus, it’s amazing to watch God begin to release you from destructive strongholds that may have been dominating your life for years!

“Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not ‘mine,’ but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” – Romans 12:1-2


I am Expectant.

“Take time. Give God time to reveal Himself to you. Give yourself time to be silent and quiet before Him, waiting to receive, through the Spirit, the assurance of His presence with you, His power working in you. Take time to read His Word as in His presence, that from it you may know what He asks of you and what He promises you. Let the Word create around you, create within you a holy atmosphere, a holy heavenly light, in which your soul will be refreshed and strengthened for the work of daily life.” – Hudson Taylor, missionary to China and founder of China Inland Mission

Expectancy is marked by a prayerful heart!

“Prayer… is also the main way we experience deep change—the reordering of our loves. Prayer is how God gives us so many of the unimaginable things he has for us. Indeed, prayer makes it safe for God to give us many of the things we most desire. It is the way we know God, the way we finally treat God as God. Prayer is simply the key to everything we need to do and be in life.” – Tim Keller

“This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike ‘What’s next, Papa?'” – Romans 8:15

“…Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder.” – Romans 12:12

“Meanwhile, friends, wait patiently for the Master’s Arrival. You see farmers do this all the time, waiting for their valuable crops to mature, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work. Be patient like that. Stay steady and strong. The Master could arrive at any time.” – James 5:7-8

I pray to God—my life a prayer—and wait for what he’ll say and do. My life’s on the line before God, my Lord, waiting and watching till morning, waiting and watching till morning.” Psalm 130:5-6

“It is my own eager expectation and hope, that [looking toward the future] I will not disgrace myself nor be ashamed in anything, but that with courage and the utmost freedom of speech, even now as always, Christ will be magnified and exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” – Philippians 1:20

“Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.” – Ephesians 3:20


I am Rooted & Established.

“Faith is like a tender plant, rooted in Christ alone, watered by the Spirit and the Word, strengthened by the winds of adversity and the sunshine of blessing.” – Anne Graham Lotz

“The more rooted we are in the love of God, the more generously we will live our faith.” – Brennan Manning

“For you, the Word is your happiness.
    It is your focus—from dusk to dawn.
You are like a tree,
    planted by flowing, cool streams of water that never run dry.
Your fruit ripens in its time;
    your leaves never fade or curl in the summer sun.
No matter what you do, you prosper.”
– Psalm 1:2-3

“These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life… They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.” – Jesus speaking to His disciples, Matthew 7:24-25

“My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught… and start living it!” – Colossians 2:7


I am Fruitful.

What does it really mean to bear fruit, that is, to be fruitful? Bearing something is to carry the weight, to endure (e.g. bearing a child, bearing a burden). In the Biblical Greek, this is confirmed.

And of course, “bearing fruit” in scripture is metaphorical language specifically related to the cultivation of grapes, the most significant fruit crop in first-century Mediterranean agriculture. Perhaps this choice of comparison to cultivating grapes is used by Jesus to help HIs followers understand that the “bearing” is not only an inner transformation (as seed germination in grape vines) but it requires endurance over a period of time, where it appears on the outside that nothing is happening. Not only this, but the culture within which Jesus and His disciples lived had a thriving wine industry. Thus grapes were painstakingly cultivated only to be crushed when mature! This beautifully illustrates key principles for Jesus’ followers. Bearing spiritual fruit (i.e. being fruitful, as in the fruit of the spirit) is wholly an internal process of maturity at which time the fruit is crushed to pour out blessing to others.

“…God can never make us into wine if we object to the fingers He chooses to use to crush us… If we are ever going to be made into wine, we will have to be crushed—you cannot drink grapes. Grapes become wine only when they have been squeezed… To be a holy person means that the elements of our natural life experience the very presence of God as they are providentially broken in His service… Stay right with God and let Him do as He likes, and you will find that He is producing the… wine that will benefit His other children.” – Oswald Chambers

My life of religion is being dismantled.
A focus on my own works is being relinquished.
Replaced by a simple longing for Jesus.
More surrender, less effort.
More freedom, less guilt.
I have not – nor will I in this life – figure it all out. It is a process of time.
But I confess my “Lord, Lord” has been spoken from a heart that did not know Him.
Falling in line with other believers, I placed my own efforts ahead of God.
I was “doing it for God,” as if He needed or wanted that, or as if I could prove something to Him.
Then Jesus found me where I thought He would never go.
Starting again, through my brokenness, something began in darkness and silence.
A tiny seed, under pressure and pain, came alive in me.
And I learned that this is what fruit bearing looks like.
Of the Spirit, to the spirit. God within me, growing.
Revealed in Jesus who became my righteousness, holiness and redemption

Through death and new life. A life of fruitfulness.
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Pure. Peace loving. Considerate. Submissive. Full of mercy and sincerity.
Hidden, but thriving in my heart.
And without even my knowing, this fruit of Christ is becoming wine.
The fruit of my life being crushed to release its redeeming power.
I’m becoming the vessel, wine pouring out from within.
This is where fruit becomes works. Works rendered by the fruit
.
Like Abraham and other heroes of the faith,
That in Christ, others might be nourished, and blessings multiplied, to the glory of God.

– JCH

“The Holy Spirit produces a different kind of fruit: unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindheartedness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You won’t find any law opposed to fruit like this.” – Galatians 5 :22-23

“Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.” – Words of Jesus (John 15:4)


I am Worshipful.

“Worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness, the nourishment of the mind with His truth, the purifying of the imagination of His beauty, the opening of the heart to His love, the surrender of the will to His purpose.” – William Temple

“Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that’s in you, love him with all you’ve got! Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night...Deuteronomy 6:5-8


I am Relational.

Only through relationships do we come to understand and know who we truly are in Christ. To be relational is to be involved in relationships with others in your family, social circles, neighbors and especially in your faith community. To be relational, you must also be willing to be accountable. Accountability really starts with just sharing your life with others. To be accountable means you’re willing to be vulnerable, to share your true self – your inner self – with those closest to you. It does not mean everyone in your life, but only those most trusted – which may be only one or two. As each relationship develops and trust grows, a mutual level of intimacy is a natural outgrowth. Finding a church is critical in cultivating a level of relationship and accountability with others that will be mutually beneficial, and that will deepen your faith as a follower of Christ.

“The glory of God is available to you in the church in a way it’s not available to you anywhere else. . . . There is no more important means of discipleship than deep involvement in the life of the church.” – Tim Keller

“…be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your hearts to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to our God and Father…” Ephesians 5:18-20 (NASB)

“You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.” – Ephesians 4:4-6 (The Message)

“…working within Christ’s body, the church, until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.” – Ephesians 7:15-16 (The Message)

“That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers… all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common… They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. Acts 2:41-47 (various verses in this section)


I am Prepared.

There are two personal letters that the Apostle Paul wrote to his young protégé named Timothy, in the mid-first century. Paul provides fatherly instruction, admonition and encouragement so that young Timothy would be more fully prepared for discipleship and ultimately church leadership. Excerpts from these two letters to Timothy are below. These precious, wise words, time-tested and proven, still hold very true for followers of Jesus today.

“Timothy, my dear child, I am placing before you a charge for the mission ahead. It is in total agreement with the prophecies once spoken over you. Here it is: with God’s message stirring and directing you, fight the good fight.” (1 Timothy 1:18)

 “Our teaching about this journey is intended to bring us to a single destination—a place where self-giving love reigns from a pure heart, a clean conscience, and a genuine faith. Yes, some have walked away from these traits and have fallen into a life of endless blabber and nonsense.” (1 Timothy 1:5-6)

“Place these truths before the brothers and sisters.
 Reject worldly fables. Refuse old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself toward godliness. Although training your body has certain payoffs, godliness benefits all things—holding promise for life here and now and promise for the life that is coming... Don’t let anyone belittle you because you are young. Instead, show the faithful, young and old, an example of how to live: set the standard for how to talk, act, love, and be faithful and pure… Don’t neglect the gift that was given to you…” (1 Timothy 4:6-15)

“Your quest is for justice, godliness, faithfulness, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith! Cling to the eternal life you were called to…”
(1 Timothy 6:11-12)

“…protect what was entrusted to you! Walk away from all the godless, empty voices out there, and turn aside from objections and arguments that arise from false knowledge…”
(1 Timothy 6:20-21)

“…don’t be embarrassed to testify about our Lord… God has already saved us and called us to this holy calling—not because of any good works we may have done, but because of His own intention and because eons and eons ago (before time itself existed), He gave us this grace in Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King. And now, the time has come! That grace was revealed when our Savior, Jesus the Anointed, appeared; and through His resurrection He has wiped out death and brought to light life and immortality by way of this good news.”
(2 Timothy 1:8-10)

“Remember the words that you heard… Retain them as the model for healthy and sound teaching in the faith and love that are available in Jesus the Anointed. As for the precious thing entrusted to you, protect it with the help of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.”
(2 Timothy 1:13-14)

“…run away from youthful desires. Instead, direct your passion to chasing after righteousness, faithfulness, love, and peace, along with those who call upon the Lord with pure hearts. Excuse yourself from any conversations that turn into foolish and uninformed debates because you know they only provoke fights. As the Lord’s slave, you shouldn’t exhaust yourself in bickering; instead, be gentle—no matter who you are dealing with—ready and able to teach, tolerant without resentment, gently instructing those who stand up against you. Besides, the time may come when God grants them a change of heart so that they can arrive at the full knowledge of truth.
..” (2 Timothy 2:22-25)

“So surely you ought to stick to what you know is certain… All of Scripture is God-breathed; in its inspired voice, we hear useful teaching, rebuke, correction, instruction, and training for a life that is right so that God’s people may be up to the task ahead and have all they need to accomplish every good work.”(2 Timothy 3:14-17)

“And know this: in the last days, times will be hard. You see, the world will be filled with narcissistic, money-grubbing, pretentious, arrogant, and abusive people. They will rebel against their parents and will be ungrateful, unholy, uncaring, coldhearted, accusing, without restraint, savage, and haters of anything good. Expect them to be treacherous, reckless, swollen with self-importance, and given to loving pleasure more than they love God. Even though they may look or act like godly people, they’re not. They deny His power. I tell you: Stay away from the likes of these.”
(2 Timothy 3:1-5)

“And now I bring you this charge before God and Jesus the Anointed, the one destined to judge the living and the dead, at His glorious appearance and His kingdom: go out and preach the word! Go whether it’s an opportune time or not! Reprove, warn, and encourage; but do so with all the patience and instruction needed to fulfill your calling because a time will come when some will no longer tolerate sound teaching. Instead, they will live by their own desires; they’ll scratch their itching ears by surrounding themselves with teachers who approve of their lifestyles and tell them what they want to hear. They will turn away from the real truth you have to offer because they prefer the sound of fables and myths. But you must stay focused and be alert at all times. Tolerate suffering. Accomplish the good work of an evangelist, and complete the ministry to which you have been called.” (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

“May the Lord be with your spirit, and may His grace be with you. [Amen.]” (2
Timothy 4:2)

This final passage is from another of Paul’s letters to the church in Ephesus (i.e. the church in general)

“Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” Ephesians 6:13-18 (The Message)


Scripture passages are taken from these translations or paraphrases:
The Message Bible (MSG), The Living BIble (TLB), New American Standard Bible (NASB), Modern English Version (MEV), The Voice (VOICE)

G2H holds copyright on this material.