For The Kingdom: Joy-Filled Living In Difficult Days | Day 63

“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me, put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:9

The goal of every disciple is to make disciples who make disciples. Before ascending into heaven, Jesus’ final words to His disciples were- “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20.  Paul, carrying out this Great Commission through his young disciple Timothy instructed, “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful people who will be able to teach others also.” 2 Timothy 2:2.  The only way that the Gospel spreads, the Church lives on and the Kingdom is multiplied is through normal disciples like you and me faithfully carrying out this mission with our families, friends, church, communities and world. There is no “Plan B.”

How do we make disciples who make disciples?  Paul gives us 4 Disciple-Making Practices that when followed faithfully will produce fruit.

4 Disciple-Making Practices

1.  Teach the truths of following Christ:  “What you have learned from me.”  Paul taught those he was discipling how to be a follower of Christ.  For an unbeliever who knows nothing of Christ or how one must follow Him, there is a learning curve.  While certainly not exhaustive, here are a few “essentials” every disciple must learn and a set of scriptures worth taking them through:

  • Who is Jesus? Read the Gospel of John and Philippians 2, Colossians 1 and Hebrews 1&2.
  • What is the Gospel? Read Ephesians 2, John 3 and Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:8, 10:9-13.
  • What is the Story of the Bible? Cover the Grand Narrative of Scripture: 1- Creation 2- Fall 3- Redemption 4- Restoration.  
  • What is the Authority of the Bible? 2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:20-21, Hebrews 4:12, John 17:17
  • What is the Christian’s Highest Calling? Mark 12:28-31 & John 15

2.  Give them the tools to follow Christ- “what you have received from me.”  Paul gave his new disciples tools and resource to help them grow in their faith.  Paul’s most obvious tool for equipping disciples was the letters that he wrote them.  If we want people to learn how to follow Christ, we should give them tools that will help them in their journey.  Whether it is teaching new believers the SOAP Bible study method or the A.C.T.S. model or taking them through a discipleship class or apologetics workshop, we can pass along the skills and tools we have received to those younger in their faith. 

3.  Show them how to follow Christ- “what you have heard and seen in me.”  Paul often invited those whom he was discipling to look at his life and example as a model for following Christ. Earlier in this letter, he said, “join in imitating me and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.” (Philippians 3:17).  As Parents and disciple makers, it is very rare for the ones whom we are discipling to go beyond the level of spiritual maturity, trust, obedience and commitment that we have set before them as an example.  We should never stop growing as followers of Christ and we should continually ask God to grow us so that others can follow our example as well. The most lasting characteristics of a disciple are caught more than taught.  Are you providing opportunities for those you are discipling to see you serving, giving, studying, witnessing, reconciling, enduring and worshipping with a spirit of humility and dependence upon Christ?  

4.  Lead others to application and obedience in following Christ-  “practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”  Jesus said in His great commission to His disciples that making disciples must include, “teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.”  Jesus could not have said it more plainly, “If you love me, obey my commandments.” John 14:15. Notice, Jesus did not say, “If you want me to love you, you better follow all of my rules.”  This is a false gospel of legalism. However, Jesus also did not say, “Since I love you so much, do whatever you want, I am cool with whatever lifestyle you choose.”  This is also a false gospel of licentiousness or antinomianism. The true heart of the Gospel can be seen in Jesus’ words to the woman caught in adultery (parentheses added)- “Jesus stood up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you (God’s grace and unconditional love); go, and from now on sin no more (Obedience and the pursuit of holiness).’” John 8:10-11

We live in the information age, the Google generation; we are flooded with Bible study tools and resources, books, blogs, conferences, and world-renowned pastors who can teach with more Biblical information than at any time in the history of the world.  But unlimited access to information means nothing if it does not lead us into a deeper trust and obedience to Christ.  Jesus does not care about how many devotional or theological books you have read.  The early disciples had none of those things and they turned the world upside down! What Jesus cares most about is how your faith in Christ is transforming your affections, your priorities, your behaviors and your attitudes.  Theological and Biblical knowledge apart from a faith relationship with Christ will never bring you peace or joy.  Like the old hymn says, “Trust and obey, for there is no other way, to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.”  That’s what it means to have peace and joy right?  To be “happy in Jesus.”  When you trust God and obey God you are abiding in God.  Abiding in God is the way that you experience His presence, His provision, His power and His peace.

This is how Jesus made disciples.  This is how Paul made disciples.  This is how the early church made disciples.  This is how we must make disciples.

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