As much as I want to dive into my theological position pertaining to this question, I will restrain and focus on answering this question in relation to what we have been learning in this class about discipleship.
Well, first breaking this down theologically will help get to how it relates to discipleship…
“Disciples are created in the image of God” – correct. Gen. 1:26-27. And yes, God created man “Above” animals to rule over them.
“yet fallen…” – also true…Rom. 3:10, Ecc 7:20
“and choosing to learn…” – here is the tricky part….
Here is where one (me) is included to delve into some deep theology regarding “Free Will vs God’s Sovereignty” and Man’s ability and God’s power….All of these are related.
For the point of discussion and summing things up (instead of dealing with ALL of the theology) I will say yes with certain qualifications and explain why I think that we “choose to learn.”
God created us like Him, in His image but are fallen because of our sin nature. On our own power we cannot find God. We cannot come back to righteousness without God first coming to us. God is Holy, Righteous, Good and full of Grace – and we are not. We cannot chose to learn and be righteous on our own. God is standing at the door of our hearts and knocking, if we answer and let God in then we can have the relationship with God and then we can begin to learn and grow.
God is the one who takes the initiative though –this is the “God’s Sovereignty” part. Each man can respond differently, this is the “free will part.”
Some will choose God and choose to have a relationship, which includes learning and growing. Others will not.
In response to some of the other ideas floating in the other posts I have read so far. I agree that sanctification is the process after salvation. It is the process of learning and becoming more like Christ.
While the salvation experience is a one- time event, but there can be a process that leads to that event. Salvation is not a process but in some instances a series of other events might lead to one’s salvation experience – this sort of process is not sanctification though. I also agree that one is either saved or not, but there are relative degrees of holiness.
In context of discipleship, this statement has a few implications:
1. If a person is not saved, then sanctification and discipleship will not be very meaningful. An atheist can learn a lot about what a Christian believes and what the worldview is but they will not get much out of discipleship if they are not in a relationship with the Lord.
2. This statement is a good starting point for someone who is recently saved or wants to start a relationship with God. A. Realizing we are fallen. B. Where do we go from there? The relationship. C. The relationship with Christ and the learning to be more like him…this is a broad way of defining “discipleship.
3. Finally this statement helps us distinguish the difference between evangelism and discipleship. First, we see that man is fallen and if man is not in a relationship with Christ they need to be introduced to Him first which then should lead to discipleship and sanctification. Secondly, it provides an honest outline for us…we should not simply “save” people and leave them…we are called to tell people about Christ and MAKE DISCIPLES. So this should change our approach to both evangelism and discipleship…by this I mean yes we need to introduce them to Christ but also lead them in the knowledge/learning/growth of discipleship. The two are to go hand in hand.