Discipleship is messy; there is no way around it. Imperfect people, following a perfect man, while persuading others to join the impossible task??? If it were not for the internal work of God in us, this is exactly what it would be. But with Gods help, being a disciple and making disciples – is an incredible joy. Knowing this, we must train ourselves to understand discipleship through a simple lens. We must learn how to view life, and the lives of others, through a lens that directs us towards Gods end goal – maturity in Christ.
Below are sections from two different articles on discipleship from ministries I have looked up to over the years, and there is a third take on discipleship by us, here at CTCI.
It is important to that we train our minds to view life through a biblical lens. A simple lens that can help us mature as disciples of Jesus.
“What is a Disciple”
Original Article: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/what-is-a-disciple
Jonathan Parnell of Desiring God
(Quotes are only a portion of the complete document)
“… a disciple of Jesus is a worshipper, a servant and a witness.”
Disciple Means Worshipper
“Most fundamentally, to follow Jesus means to worship him exclusively.”
“To follow Jesus, to be his disciple, doesn’t mean community involvement and the veneer of tolerance. It means, mainly, first and central to worship him – with joy at the heart.”
“Making disciples of Jesus means gathering his worshippers.”
Disciple Means Servant
““…for I have given you an example, that you should do just as I have done to you” (John 13:14-15) In one since, the posture of servant should characterize Jesus’s disciples on all fronts. But in a another since being a servant like Jesus has a particular focus on disciples serving disciples.”
“To be a disciple of Jesus means to serve like him.”
“Making disciples of Jesus means making servants who love one another.”
Disciple Means Witness
“…Jesus’s disciples are on a mission. It means, in the broadest sense, that they are missionaries, that they are envisioned and empowered to step into this world (not of it, but sent into it) as his witnesses (Acts 1:8)”
“To be a disciples of Jesus means to point people to him.”
“…a disciple of Jesus makes disciples of Jesus, as Jesus tells us to.” (Matthew 18:18-20)
In summary: A Disciple does and will teach others to…
1. Worship Jesus – Gather his worshippers
2. Serve like Jesus – Make servants who love one another
3. Point people to Jesus – Makes disciples of Jesus, as Jesus tells us to
“Discipleship – The Goal of the Great Commission”
Original article can be found: http://www.heartcrymissionary.com/online-magazine
Paul Washer of Heart Cry Missionary Society
(Quotes are only a portion of the complete document found in Magazine #80)
“…if the missionary is going to be a disciple maker, he must be a disciple himself. He must be devoted to the teaching of his Master that are found in the Scriptures. He must dedicate his entire life to obeying, and teaching, and exemplifying Christ’s commands to others.”
The first characteristic of a true disciple… John 8:31-23
“So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, ‘if you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of mine…’” (John 8:31-32)
“…genuine discipleship of Christ continues in subjection to His word or teaching…”
The second characteristic of a true disciple… John 13:35
“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
“…the disciple of Christ will openly identify with other disciples and love them…”
The third characteristic of a true disciple… John 15:8
“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” (John 15:8)
“…the disciple of Christ will bring forth fruit or works that prove or demonstrate the validity of His confession.”
In summary: A Disciple will…
1. Continue in Jesus’ Word
2. Love the disciples of Christ
3. Bring forth fruit
Discipleship at CTCI – Life is…
There are 5 declarations about life that steer discipleship at CTCI. These declarations do not come forth directly from Jesus, but are found in His life and teachings. They are truths, that help explain the world we live in and the purpose of our lives.
Life is Relationships
Life is Personal Holiness
Life is Biblical
Life is Authentic
Life is Relevant
Life is Relationships
In my own opinion, there is no other word in english that better describes and explains the purpose of life than relationship. There is no individual that does not have a relationship with God1, no government that exist beyond His reach2. All of creation is relating to God; every minute of every day, for the entirety of its existence, ”For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.” (Romans. 11:36)
Life reveals what the Word has already told us; that people either have a good relationship with God, or a bad one. Individuals either love Jesus and follow him, or they hate Jesus and attempt suppress the truth of God3. Ultimately, marriages, families, assemblies, etc. will display God rightly, or they will display him wrongly. To be a disciple of Jesus is to obey the greatest commandment in scripture; “to love the Lord your God… and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22:37-38). Very simply, a disciple follows Jesus and relates to all people as a disciple of Jesus.1Ephesians 3:15
3John 8:39-47, Romans 1:18-23
Life is Personal Holiness
There might be no greater confusion in discipleship than the area of personal holiness. Even under the best of teaching, a person can wrestle to understand the finished work of Christ and the ongoing sanctification of the believer. The command to obey and believe come forth from God equally. God demands both, and enables both in His children. To separate one from the other will mislead both the believer and the unbeliever. Therefore, we must “repent and believe”1; we must “obey through faith”2.
Here at CTCI, we are committed to both understand and experience the new life. You can only truly follow Jesus with your entire body, no part can be left behind. Putting off the old man walks in step with putting on the new man3. God is conforming us into the image of His Son4, and He desires to touch every area of our lives. If any person desires to be faithful with much in life, he must acknowledge his need to become faithful with little5. A disciple of Christ will never outgrow his Master6; if we plan to make disciples of Jesus, we must certainly be a disciple of Jesus. There are many who can point people to Jesus, but there are few embracing the biblical witness of declaring, “follow me as I follow Jesus”7.1Mark 1:15
2Romans 1:5; 16:26
6John 13:16; 15:16
71 Corinthians 11:1; 4:16; Philippians 3:17; 2 Thessalonians 3:7; 1 timothy 3;12; 1 peter 5:3
Life is Biblical
In all regards to life and Godliness, there is no equal in all of literature to the Bible. Many have tried to explain life, to understand its emotions, and to know its purpose, but their wisdom is the wisdom of man – and they have all fallen short. Of these five declarations, none is more precious to the life of a disciple than the Biblical life. A disciple of Jesus might begin a relationship, even be filled with new emotions and a passion for God, but a disciple will never learn to orient this life apart from the Bible1.
For a disciple to know and treasure the Bible – is to know and treasure Jesus2. There are many doctrines in scripture, but all of them find their beginning and end in Jesus. We can debate the roles of the family, church government, salvation, sacraments… but to treat these issues properly we must begin and end with Jesus3. To think biblically, is to have the mind of Jesus4, to live biblically is to follow Jesus5. Biblical discipleship not only begins and ends with Jesus, it dances through doctrinal issues hand in hand – with Jesus.1Psalm 119:105; Proverbs 6:23;
3Example: a proper picture of marriage is not completed by a man and woman getting married. It is fulfilled when a man and woman reflect Jesus’ love for His bride, the Chruch. (Ephesians 5:31-32
4Phillippians 2:5; 1 Corinthians 2:16
5Mark 1:17; 8:34
Life is Authentic
The word authentic means: genuine, legitimate, real and trustworthy. In the very beginning Gods plan was to create man in His image. All of creation was made by Him1, but only one was made in His likeness2. If we were to look at the collective character of men and woman today, one would conclude that God is foolish, untrustworthy, emotionally unstable, and selfish to the core. But this is not the Image of God, it is the image of fallen man4. This is what men and woman look like when they deny God, men and woman who rail5 against Him, and approve6 the very actions God hates.
A disciple of Jesus is the most authentic reflection of God7. To follow and imitate Jesus, is to follow and imitate God Himself8. It seems a bold thing for Paul the Apostle to ask his disciples to follow him, to imitate his speech and conduct9. But this is what an authentic disciple of Jesus does. A true disciple aligns his life more and more to the life of Jesus, so that the world begins to see more and more of God.1Genesis 1:31
7Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10
8John 14:6; 14:9
9Philippians 3:17; 2 Timothy 3:10
Life is Relevant
The final declaration about life accompanies the Great Commission and helps a disciple understand why God leaves us in this world for a time, before bringing us to His side1.
The earth is fallen, and its people more desperate than we realize. Most are building their families on the broken foundations of their parents; lies that have been passed down from generation to generation. Apart from God, the wisest and most elite counsel on life will not even begin to satisfy our basic needs. Their guidance lacks clarity, and their wisdom exposed in the face of Jesus2. The answers for todays needs, are carried by the disciples of Christ. There is non so needed in society, no person in such high demand as a disciple of Christ.
I know many Christians that have been taught to separate life into different realms; the secular and the sacred. Trained so well in the schools of men, they have forgotten to ask God His opinion on civil affairs. A disciple of Jesus, must know that everything in life is under the Kingdom of God. The pews on sunday are no more an alter before the Lord than the desk at work, and honest labor is as much an act of worship as singing Hymns on Sunday. The disciple must know that his entire life is lived Coram Deo3; this makes him more relevant to the culture than any tool God possesses.
When we pray, “Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven4”, we are asking God to bring about His hearts desire, on earth – through us5.1John 17:6-19
21 Corinthians 1:25; 3:19; Job 5:13
3Corem Deo – To live coram Deo is to live one’s entire life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God. http://www.ligonier.org/blog/what-does-coram-deo-mean/
5Notes from ESV Study Bible – The presence of God’s kingdom in this age refers to the reign of Christ in the hearts and lives of believers, and to the reigning presence of Christ in his body, the church—so that they increasingly reflect his love, obey his laws, honor him, do good for all people, and proclaim the good news of the kingdom.