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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
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What’s Missing in Discipleship Today

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Not too many years ago, you could assume certain things about a person raised in a Judeo-Christian culture. Of those days, Tim Keller says, “There was so much background we assumed the culture did for us that discipleship was almost like a finishing school. Now you can’t assume that kids coming up have any of the basic intellectual furniture of even believing in an absolute right and wrong.”

TGC Council members Tim Keller, Don Carson, and Stephen Um sat down to talk about what we may not realize is missing from catechesis and discipleship in our day. Carson points out the individualistic perspective in many of our spiritual-formation efforts: “In the Western world, when we do discipleship it tends to be very privatized to build up individual confidence in Christ (which is a good thing) and individual self-examination (which is a good thing), but it’s relatively shallow thinking about the church, about relationships.” Keller sees a need for the church to disciple holistically: “I don’t think you can just have a class anymore. You actually have to think of every single thing you do in the church as formative, everything—your worship service, the preaching—it’s going to take everything.”

All three men agree that Acts 17 provides a good model for the groundwork that must be laid in order to do spiritual formation in our day. We must be prepared for longer processes, more patience, and more deliberateness.

You can listen to this episode of The Gospel Coalition podcast here (or watch the video).



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