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Becoming a Disciple, with John Hiigel What is the role of the church in discipleship?

Hiigel: The church is essential. Jesus has no conception of discipleship lived in isolation from others who love him. He values individuals, but he fortifies us by joining us together. The church is family, so it is the setting for nurture. Within the family, we cultivate the habit of entrusting everything to Jesus, strengthening each other by prayer, training, and mutual care. This equips us for our service beyond the family, out into the world, where our mission is ultimately to draw people into the family.

Jesus has come mightily to bind the devil and to set loose everyone he has held captive.

Jesus has come mightily to bind the devil and to set loose everyone he has held captive (12:29). Amazingly, Jesus extends that same authority to his church, speaking first to Peter in 16:19 and then to all disciples in 18:18. Jesus commissions us to bind evil and set captives loose, unlocking doors for people to enter into the kingdom life. As we proclaim the good news, Jesus will cause the message to take root in people’s hearts. As we challenge injustice, Jesus will overcome it. As we forgive, Jesus will bring effective forgiveness from God. As we work to feed the poor and relieve the war torn, Jesus will magnify our impact. It is a partnership in his work. In 16:18, Jesus pictures the church invading a fortified prison, overcoming all the forces of darkness and setting prisoners free now and forever. This is a compelling vision of the church as a vibrant, restorative, liberating force in the world.

Jesus has no conception of discipleship lived in isolation from others who love him.

By his instruction in Matthew, Jesus corrects two opposite errors into which churches may fall: the error of devaluing ministry to one another in the family by being exclusively evangelistic and “seeker sensitive,” and the opposite error of becoming ingrown, and therefore impotent to bring healing and hope to a hurting world. How would you hope a new Christian would respond to this book?

Hiigel: I hope that my book will help new disciples to enter fully into the new life with Jesus – to join and embrace his family of followers, receive his deep healing, learn from him daily as his apprentices, and partner with him in his transformative mission in the world.



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Category: Living the Faith, Spring 2014

About the Author: John L. Hiigel earned his Ph.D. from Fuller Seminary and is Professor of Biblical Studies at the University of Sioux Falls in South Dakota. Previously, he served more than two decades as a pastor and musician in Los Angeles. He is the author of Leadership in First Corinthians (Edwin Mellen Press, 2003) and Partnering with the King: Study the Gospel of Matthew and Become a Disciple of Jesus (Paraclete Press, 2013).

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