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ﲍ God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son,

that whoever believes in him shall not perish,

but have eternal life.羚nt>

   (John 3:16)

Believing is the beginning and the being of discipleship. Believing has a beginning at a point of time and continues through time unto eternity.

It is not easy to begin to believe that the Omniscient, Omnipotent Creator of Time and Space invaded time and space in flesh and blood and was born as son of David. If it was easy, would Judas betray Jesus for thirty silver coins? He betrayed Jesus because he failed even to begin to believe in Christ.

Evangelist Billy Graham says Christianity is nor a religion; but faith in a Person called Jesus Christ. How many of us have put that sort of faith in Jesus, even once?

The Greek original of John 3:16 uses the word 鳴euo for 嬩evesԨis action includes (1) self-assurance that Jesus is Godӯn and Only Savior (2) self 岲ender and obedience to Jesus and (3) self-assurance that Jesus is able and willing to bring one to eternal life. Hence believing is both a momentary action and an ongoing action. In John 5:24 Jesus says: 튠 tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. The Greek text uses the present participle 鳴eoun here stressing the ongoing action of believing. Saving faith is an activity, something the believer does, or better still, continues to do. Hence, when Jesus was asked: 稡t must we do to do the works God requires? Jesus answered, 襠work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent༯b>(John 6:28,29). Here faith becomes work and the work becomes faith. Discipleship begins with faith and is constituted by working out that faith. Believing is the source and substance of discipleship.

But it is this sort of faith, which is both static and dynamic, that is always under challenge. Saint Perpetua was 22 years old and nursing a baby in 202 A.D. She refused to renounce her faith in spite of the pleading of her pagan father or even for the sake of her child and was beheaded along with four other Christians, after first being savaged by wild beasts. They exchanged kiss of peace before being put to death. That is believing unto death and eternity.

Others have not been as faithful. St. Peter failed to believe continuously and denied Christ for social acceptability. He repented and was eventually martyred. Faith in Christ has a cost which few wish to pay. Christians have denied Christ for a pot of porridge, to preserve their possessions, to protect their family or to prolong their life. Faith is costly because grace, which initiates it, is costly. ⡣e is costly because it costs a man his life粯te German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer [1] in 龃ost of Discipleship३ght years before he was put to death by Hitler. Being a true disciple of Christ, he could, at the time of his death say: 詳 is the end--for me the beginning of life.p; 

Faith is under greater challenge today. It is reported that in 1996, more people died for their faith in Christ than in any year in history. What about us? Do we place our faith above our social acceptability, possessions, family and life ? Are we willing to pay the cost of  Discipleship Today?

 Dietrich Bonhoeffer : The Lion Book of Christian Thought Ṹ4 Tony Lane

     Biblical Quotations: Holy Bible, New International Version ṷ3 International Bible Society.    

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