Mind the (knowing = doing = knowing) Gap

In the Old Testament, as well as in the writings of Paul, knowledge is not a fixed quantum but rather something that develops in the life of people as they are obedient.

PT O’Brien
Commentary on Ephesians

Disciple making movements teach disciples to obey everything Jesus has commanded (Matt 28: 16-20). That includes some basics of discipleship like: repent and believe, be baptized, pray, make disciples, give generously, love one another and celebrate the Lord's Supper.

Sadly not everyone in the world of missiology is happy with this approach.  Obedience-oriented discipleship has drawn fire. Accusations have been thrown around. Is this a form of Christian Sharia law? Is it man-centred rather than God-centred?

I'm not going to spend too much time on this because the Scriptures are clear and life is short.

Here’s what I wrote about the obedience of faith in, What Jesus Started.

For Paul, the “obedience of faith” is the obedience that flowed from faith in Christ (Rom 1:5; 15:18). It was the disciples’ total response to the gospel in every area of life, not just their initial conversion. The Christian life is both created and lived through the gospel.”

Paul wrote to the Galatians, “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?” (Gal 5:7). The gospel is not just something we believe; it’s something we obey. The obedience of faith begins with conversion but must go on to include an ongoing change of life. Paul told the Galatians that he continued to suffer like a woman in labor “until Christ is formed in you” (Gal 4:19). Bringing them to the obedience of faith was an important part of Paul’s mission.

Paul’s letters typically focused on two themes: (1) the truth of the gospel and (2) how believers should live in response to that truth. His priority was to establish believers in the obedience of faith—a way of life that was consistent with the character of God as revealed in Jesus Christ. Paul’s letters followed a similar pattern: starting with the grace of God in Jesus Christ, he would remind believers of who they were in Christ and what God had done for them. This focus on the reality of their salvation and all its benefits dominated Paul’s letters. Once he had laid this foundation, he moved on to show how these truths must transform the lives of God’s people.

Gentile conversion to faith in Christ involved a radical break with their culture. Gentiles had to abandon their belief in the gods and turn to the one true and living God of the Jewish Scriptures. They had to put their faith in a Savior who had been executed as a criminal on a Roman cross and raised physically from the dead.

Imagine the changes in the life of a new believer who lived in Ephesus, for example. He would no longer visit the temple of Artemis or participate in the rituals and festivals in her honor. He would not bow before the statue of the goddess when he visited the public baths, and he would remove the idols from his home. He would no longer worship the Roman emperor as a god. His break with paganism could not have been more obvious to his community.

In addition, this new believer would leave behind all kinds of sexual immorality—adultery, visiting prostitutes and homosexual behavior—as well as forsaking greed and drunkenness. All of these were acceptable in Ephesian society, as long as they were carried out discreetly and within limits.