Two-Tiered System

by Bill Hull

I've written extensively about the divide between salvation and discipleship, and here I want to answer the question: What has been the result in our churches of dividing salvation and discipleship? 

In recent years, Christians have been divided into two categories. At the core of this division is the idea that salvation has two parts. First, a person receives Christ as savior. Sometime later, they submit to him as Lord. This understanding has led to the existence of a two-tiered Christian population those who are saved and just waiting for heaven and those who are serious about their faith.

Practically, this two-tiered system has created an expectation that many Christians will languish and never bear any fruit or multiply thirty, sixty, or hundred fold (Matt. 13:19–23). Because we expect this, we create programs around it. In fact, we may intentionally avoid urging people to study the Bible and act on their faith because these discipleship activities can be interpreted as legalism. We call our church members Christians but refrain from calling them disciples because that term refers to a deeper level of commitment. The biblical terms used to describe believers—followers, disciples, slaves, and servants of Christ—seem much too serious for many church-goers.

We need to reject this two-tiered system. We need to return to biblical labels and speak in biblical ways about the connection between conversion and discipleship and by doing so reclaim this lost understanding of salvation.

For more on the connection between salvation and discipleship, stay tuned here at The Bonhoeffer Project blog.

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This excerpt has been adapted from Conversion and Discipleship.

Image credit: Shutterstock.