King Jesus and the Beauty of Obedience-Based Discipleship

By David Young, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2020.

Sherry Augustus is the chaplain at Crawford Adventist Academy, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Who is a disciple? Is it one who studies the Bible, prays every day, and grows, grows, grows? The book King Jesus and the Beauty of Obedience-Based Discipleship, written by David Young, provides a bold, biblical answer.

The stated purpose of this book is to reacquaint the church with the Kingship of Jesus. Because the monarchy is not a universally relatable analogy, the nuances of Christ as King are lost on many in the modern church. Therefore, Young posits, “Calling Jesus ‘King’ is not a mere theological claim; it has implications for how we live. It is not just a title. Kingship denotes a position, and a very real position with very real and eternal consequences. If Jesus is king, we have only two choices in response. We can rebel against him, raise puppet kings, construct our own kingdoms, and generally thumb our noses at him, or we can submit to him in obedience-based discipleship.

“This book is a call for us to recognize the Jesus who is king and submit to him in obedience-based discipleship” (4, 5).

In addition to this, the book provides practical suggestions and examples of the surrendered life. After offering five mandatory principles for those who desire to follow Jesus as King, Young guarantees the reader will find a life worth having, filled with peace, power, and purpose.

The anecdotal writing style keeps readers engaged. Through various relevant stories, readers are stimulated both emotionally and spiritually. Generally, this creates a deeper connection with the presented information. Additionally, the inclusion of stories and illustrations widens the reach of the book. It makes the content available to the “common man.” Furthermore, the anecdotal “feel” allows the book to be read as a devotional. This is a strength because it makes the information accessible to a younger demographic.

Despite this, the book’s credibility was diminished by an imbalance of scholarly citations compared to testimonials and blogs. Of the 24 listed references, only 11 can be properly considered authoritative. The abundance of heart-warming quotations leaves the reader emotionally attuned but intellectually bereft. Although exemplars are necessary to illustrate the point being made, a stronger voice of academia is missing.

The theology of the book reflects general Christian principles. Since most Christians should be able to easily relate to the content, Christian leaders seeking to grow disciples will find the book a useful resource since a clear model for discipleship is presented in a step-by-step manner.

First, Jesus, though assumed familiar to the reader, is reintroduced in kingship terms, including as God of the universe, crowned Conqueror of sin, and returning King of victory. Second, the authority of Jesus over every area of life—such as relationships, money, health, emotions—is presented. Third, embracing the mission of Jesus is offered as a best practice, and seven specific steps to accomplish this are set forth. Last, the ultimate commitment of baptism, the power of living in obedience, and the expectancy that Jesus can and will do great things are recommended as the best alternative for those seeking the fulfilled life of a disciple.

I strongly recommend this book. Young exposes the secret God of our hearts—self—and proposes the truth in a statement that is repeated in various ways throughout the book, namely, “King Jesus is a better king than you or I will ever be” (4). Reading this book can potentially produce the same effects in the reader that a “prophetic” sermon has on a hearer. As Bobby Harrington succinctly stated in the book’s foreword, this book “is easy to read. . . . It explains obedience-based discipleship. . . . It focuses on helping you to grasp the wonder, grandeur, and majesty of Jesus as king [and] . . . can change your life and the lives of the people in your church” (xiv). It has certainly changed mine.

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Sherry Augustus is the chaplain at Crawford Adventist Academy, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

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