In this post, Justin Taylor quotes from D.A. Carson and John Piper on the crucial role of modeling and imitation in Christian discipleship: 

D.A. Carson, in his little book From the Resurrection to His Return: Living Faithfully in the Last Days (Christian Focus), asks:

Do you ever say to a young Christian, 

“Do you want to know what Christianity is like? Watch me!”

If you never do, you are unbiblical.

The Apostle Paul hit this theme a number of times in his letters. For example:

1 Cor. 4:15-17: “For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me. That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.”

Phil 4:9: “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

2 Thess. 3:7-9: “For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you,nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate.

2 Tim. 3:10-11: “You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra. . . .”

John Piper comments on two additional verses:

1 Cor. 11:1: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”

Phil. 3:17: “Brothers, join in imitating me, and fix your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.”

...Notice the sequence:

Jesus lives the perfect life for imitation.

Paul imitates Jesus.

Others “walk according to the example they have in us.”

Finally, we fix our eyes on those who follow Paul’s example.

What makes this so remarkable is that Paul says it is spiritually wise to consider not just Jesus’ life, and not just the lives of those who follow him, but also the lives of those who follow those who follow him.

This seems to imply that the line of inspiration and imitation goes on and on.

Indeed it does. And the centuries are laden with the lives of saved sinners whose failures and triumphs of grace are meant to inspire and strengthen and guide the rest of us.

So among all the other things you do to grow in the knowledge and grace of Christ (2 Peter 3:18), follow Paul’s summons to “fix your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.”

Read the rest here.