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The faith of demons

November 6, 2018 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

For the next couple of months, I’ll be sharing my reflections on the book The Kingdom Unleashed, written by Jerry Trousdale and Glenn Sunshine, in the hopes of expanding our view of what God is up to in the world and how we can learn from it here in America.

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22) 

One of the most fascinating/scary verses in the Bible is James 2:19: You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that-- and shudder.” These confrontational words of James let us know that the word “faith” must mean something more than intellectual assent; true saving faith manifests itself in obedience. The demons of Hell believe that Jesus is the eternal Son of God – and they know it much more confidently than you do. Nevertheless, they do not bow the knee to Him, and they will not follow Him as Lord. What does that teach you about what it really means to have faith in Jesus?

In chapter 5 of The Kingdom Unleashed, Trousdale and Sunshine talk about how the church in the Global North often experiences little spiritual power and vitality because of their false understanding of what faith really is. In the evangelical church, we talk about being saved by grace alone through faith alone, which is true. But we cannot stop there. The consistent witness of the Biblical authors is that faith that does not result in obedience to Jesus’ teachings is not true faith.

Trousdale and Sunshine go on to write about Disciple Making Movements, movements which have significantly expanded the church and the Kingdom of God throughout the Global South. These movements include something called Discovery Groups, studies which have the ability to disciple both Christians and non-Christians in a manner that focuses more on obedience than knowledge. The process looks like this:

  1. Ask “What happened this past week that you are thankful for?” This disciples people towards praise.
  2. Ask “What challenges are happening your life, family, or community? This disciples towards intercession.
  3. Ask “How did you obey/share/meet a need after last week’s group? This disciples towards accountability.
  4. Study the Bible. Read a passage aloud as a group, and then have a volunteer re-tell the passage from memory in his or her own words. This disciples towards reading God’s Word in order to obey it.
  5. Ask “What do we learn about God in this section?” This disciples towards reading the Bible in order to understand God.
  6. Ask “What do we learn about the human race from this section?” This disciples towards self-examination.
  7. Ask “How will your life change if you put this passage into practice? This disciples towards obedience. Specifically:

                        Is there a sin to confess or avoid?

                        Is there a prayer to pray? A praise to give to God? A promise to claim?

                        Is there an example to imitate?

                        Is there a command to obey?

                        Is there knowledge to gain?”

    8. Ask “Who do you know who needs to hear this lesson?” This disciples towards making disciples.

    9. Ask “How can we help with one of the challenges that were shared earlier (in question 2)?” This disciples towards ministry.

This pattern of studying God’s Word is meant to be done in community, but can also be used to guide your own personal time with God. The bottom line is that the emphasis when we read God’s Word is meant to be not simply on learning things, but on putting into practice what we read. Why not put what you have just read into practice today by walking in obedience to what you have learned?

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