Biblical Discipleship - Chapter 2
The importance and the Cost
1. Jesus showed the importance of discipleship by making the training of the twelve disciples a priority during the three and a half years of his public ministry on earth.
2. Jesus commissioned all his followers to train disciples because he intended fruit that lasts.
3. Discipleship is the best method to reach our world for God. The impact that Jesus' twelve and Paul had on the world shows us the value of discipleship. If one disciple led just one other person to Christ, and devoted a year to training him, and the following year both disciple and disciple each made one new disciple a piece, and the next year those four made four more (one each), in about thirty two years the whole world‘s population would be saved - according to plain mathematics.
4. The end result is spiritually mature Christians. Maturity does not come automatically with age, knowledge or experience, but is the result of gradual spiritual growth on the basis of obedience to Christ Jesus and His Word.
Seven signs of spiritual maturity.
1. Fruitfulness in our service for God (Mt. 25 v 14 - 30).
2. A humble attitude and a willingness to serve others (Jn. 13 v 12 - 17).
3. A standard of excellence in our lives in general (2 Cor 13 v 11).
4. A close relationship with Jesus (Gal. 2 v 20).
5. The fruit of the Spirit manifest in our lives (Gal. 5 v 22 - 23).
6. A stable, consistent and holy walk before God and man (Eph. 4 v 11 - 16).
7. A solid knowledge of God's word and discernment as a result (Heb. 5 v 13, 6 v 2).
N. B. This can be summed up as 'Christ - likeness (1 Jn. 2 v 6).
The Need for Spiritual Maturity
1. Growth into spiritual maturity in Christ is what the Bible suggests is expected for all Christians (Eph. 4 v 11 - 16).
2. Without maturity there can be no leadership, and leaders are necessary for the church to grow because they are the shepherds of God's flock (1 Pt. 5 v 1 - 3).
3. Only mature Christians will be able to effectively stand against the devil and his powers of darkness and this is what God wants us to do (Mt. 12 v 29).
4. Only mature Christians have a lasting impact for God on our world today.
5. It is only the mature disciple who, through his loving example, is able to convey the character of Jesus to the world.
Remember. Winning converts adds to the numbers of born again believers, but discipleship makes disciples who are mature reproducers, who will in turn multiply the number of born again believers/ disciples.
The Cost of being a True Disciple
Discipleship is a very serious business. It is a costly thing: that is how Jesus himself viewed it. He did not offer his disciples a bed of roses! Instead he made it known from the beginning that it would cost them everything and asking us all to carry our own cross (Lk. 14 v 27).
Many have settled for less.
Many Christians have settled for a form of discipleship that bears little resemblance to the teachings and expectations of Jesus. His words are often compromised out of expediency or to avoid personal cost. As a result many Christians fail to be the witnesses God wants them to be, and the church is regarded as weak, ineffective or irrelevant. God‘s children are to demonstrate the life-transforming presence of Jesus in the world. Even within the church many Christians find the lowest common denominator and fit in there, that is, they follow the least effective person. God wants us to imitate his best people and ultimately Jesus himself (1 Cor. 11 v 1).
Counting the Cost
God calls his children to face the true implications of personal discipleship, to be faithful and obedient to the Lord, regardless of the cost to themselves. Out of love for Jesus, they are willing to apply his standards to their lives. A discipleship with out cost is no true discipleship Because Jesus demanded such a high price for discipleship, he challenged everyone to first count the cost. (Lk. 9 v 57 - 62; Jn. 6 v 60 - 66; Mk. 10 v 17 - 31).
True Discipleship will cost us all.
1. Living, as a disciple is not an optional extra, but the normal Christian commitment, which Jesus expects from all his followers.
2. A true disciple realizes and accepts that Jesus rightly deserves to be the Lord of his whole life (Jn. 13 v 13).
3. A true disciple is a person who has believed the words of Christ and has committed his life to Christ Jesus.
4. It is important to realize that disciples of Jesus cannot be half - hearted or mediocre in anything they do, as they are to follow Jesus, and he lived and died for the principles of the Kingdom of God.
Five basic preconditions for Biblical discipleship:
1. Faithfulness = only faithful or reliable people fully qualify for discipleship training.
2. Loving Jesus and putting him first. = This means living lives according to his will, i.e. obedience.
3. A willingness to give of ourselves, sacrificially = to grow in spiritual maturity will demand sacrifices of time and even relationships. God has a personnel discipleship course for each one of us, so that we will be transformed into the likeness of his son Jesus (Ph. 2 v 13, Cor. 9 v 8, Thes. 5 v 23 - 24).
4. Spiritual hunger = this implies a real desire to grow spiritually and to be used by God.
5. A teachable attitude = which shows itself when we are willing to submit to the authority of God‘s word and to the spiritual leaders who have been placed over us by him.
Questions and Discussion Points
1. Why must we aim at spiritual maturity? (Col. 1 v 28)
2. what is Christ - likeness? (Rom. 8 v 29)
3. what does it mean to take up your cross? (Mt. 16 v 24 - 25).
4. Should we count the cost of being a disciple of Jesus? (Lk. 14 v 25 - 35).
5. Does Jesus deserve to be made Lord of our lives? (Col. 1 v 15 - 20).
6. What type of person is Jesus looking for to serve him? (Lk. 16 v 10 - 12, Mt. 25 v 14 -30).
7. How do we save our lives? (Mt. 16 v 24 - 25, 1 Jn. 5 v 12).
(What would you need to change in your life to be a true disciple for Jesus?).
Summary and Application
1. Jesus made discipleship a priority so should we!
2. Discipleship is God‘s chosen strategy for reaching the world.
3. Spiritually mature Christians should be the end result of discipleship.
4. We need to make a firm decision to follow Jesus and not settle for less, he warned that this would be costly.
5. God‘s sons should be demonstrating Jesus to the world, we should be transformed to his likeness.
6. As disciples we should be teachable, faithful, spiritually hungry and sacrificial.
7. Human nature does not like obedience, neither does it like cost, it is easy to settle for a level of discipleship acceptable to us and imagine it to be acceptable to God as well.
Key scriptures. Read and meditate on them.
Jn. 15 v 16,
Mt. 28 v 18 - 20,
Lk. 9 v 23,
Lk. 14 v 26 - 35,
Mt. 10 v 37 - 39.
1 Cor. 9 v 8.