Tag Archives: Discipleship
1. Discipleship is about a Relationship
Michael Wilkins has defined a disciple of Jesus as one who “has come to Jesus for eternal life, has claimed Jesus as Savior and God, and has embarked upon the life of following Jesus.” His very presence in my life and his promise to never leave nor forsake me, encourages me to daily follow Him. At the heart of following Him is this undeserved relationship I have with Him.
2. Discipleship is enabled and empowered by the work of the Holy Spirit who transforms us into the image of Christ.
The Holy Spirit indwells and fills believers (Eph. 5:18), guides us into all truth (John 16:13), brings forth fruit in our lives (Gal. 5:22-23) and empowers us for ministry in the church and in the world. The Spirit is God’s presence in us (Rom. 8:11) to confirm that we are indeed children of God (Rom. 8:16) and to convict us of sin for the continuing process of conforming us into the image of Christ. Understanding the role of the Holy Spirit encourages the response of submission to His sanctifying work.
3. Discipleship is grounded and guided by the Word of God
The Bible is our authority in all areas of life. “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). Consistent nourishment is a vital component of one’s spiritual growth (Psalm 1, John 15).
4. Discipleship is nurtured in community
Community with other believers is a vital part of our growth as disciples. We were made to be in fellowship with one another. Thus the imagery of the body of Christ portrays how vitally linked we are to one another. In such community we are able to fulfill the command of loving one another and with this community then to love the world.
5. Discipleship is a continuing process of being transformed from the inside-out
“The ultimate goal of the believer’s life is to be conformed to the image of Christ (Ro 8:29).” Jesus described a radical way of life in the sermon on the mount. In a world in which righteousness was very much regarded by one’s outward actions, Jesus emphasized the transformation of the heart.
6. Discipleship produces spiritual fruit
As the Holy Spirit works to transform the individual and change is made from the inside-out, the characteristics of God become evident in the believer’s life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).
7. Disciples of Christ who are in the process of inward transformation, yield to the Spirit’s leading in service and mission.
Spiritual formation is both about the inward change of heart and the outward manifestation of that changed heart. Christ modeled the life of service for His disciples and commands us to serve in humility and love while proclaiming His truth in a lost world.
8. Disciples are called to share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings
As we live in a sin-cursed world, we bear the effects of sin on a daily basis. With the presence of Christ and the promise of future hope with Him, we are able to endure the pain and even be transformed in the process. Paul writes of this truth in 2 Cor. 4:17: “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” God invites us to suffer for His sake, for living to honor Christ in a world that is hostile toward Him. In this, we share in his sufferings and bring glory to Him.
9. Disciples Must Count the Cost
Following Christ as His disciple means letting go of one’s own will and seeking the will of God in all things (Luke 9:23). Nothing must take the place of Jesus as the “focus of allegiance,” as Wilkins explains.
10. Discipleship is a Life-long Journey
In my own life, describing my faith and discipleship in terms of the journey metaphor has been vitally important on many different levels. As I come to different forks in the road, or experience difficult trials, knowing that Jesus is my trustworthy Master and Leader, is my sole comfort and motivation to continue in this journey of faith. We must continue to realize and endeavor to endure the trials of faith that come with renewed commitment to following Christ on a daily basis.
 Michael J. Wilkins, Following the Master: A Biblical Theology of Discipleship (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 40.
 Michael Glerup, “The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Formation,” in The Kingdom Life: A Practical Theology of Discipleship and Spiritual Formation, ed. Alan Andrews (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2010), 251.
 Michael J. Wilkins, Following the Master: A Biblical Theology of Discipleship (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 133.
 Michael J. Wilkins, An Outline Study Guide to “Following the Master: A Biblical Theology of Discipleship,” 69.
*Article above adapted from http://www.thetwocities.com/practical-theology/discipleship-2/discipleship-principles/ Posted by Jeannette Hagen – February 25, 2013
About the Author:
Jeanette Hagan is currently a PhD candidate in New Testament at the University of Durham. Studying under John M.G. Barclay, she is writing her thesis on the relationship between Paul’s doctrine of justification by faith and the continuing participation a believer experiences in the death, resurrection and life of Christ. Previously, she studied English literature for her B.A. at Biola University while being in the first graduating class of the Torrey Honors Institute. In 2011 she completed her M.A. in New Testament at Talbot School of Theology. Her passion is training and equipping disciples to follow the Lord wholeheartedly. She has served in a variety of ministry capacities. Highlights include: organizing summer camps and humanitarian efforts for orphans in Ukraine and Russia, traveling 5 continents sharing the Gospel, helping to facilitate for theological and practical ministry training for believers around the world, and serving in a church plant in Whittier, CA. In her free time she enjoys reading, being outdoors in a variety of recreational capacities, playing piano, and mostly just spending quality time with family and friends.
“A discipler is one who helps an understudy (1) give up his own will for the will of God the Father, (2) live daily a life of spiritual sacrifice for the glory of Christ, and (3) strive to be consistently obedient to the commands of his Master. A mentor, on the other hand, provides modeling, close supervision on special projects, individualized help in many areas—discipline, encouragement, correction, confrontation, and a calling to accountability.” – Ted Engstrom (The Fine Art of Mentoring, recently re-published by Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2008 )
Dr. Ted W. Engstrom (1916-2006) dedicated his life to effective Christian ministry leadership. His 60 years of Christian service include careers as Christian book editor at Zondervan, president of Youth for Christ International, president of World Vision, and author of more than 50 books. He was a board member for dozens of Christian organizations and assisted religious and political leaders in 136 other countries where he stood as a model of godly leadership.
Going From Conversion To Completion in Christ in the Discipleship Process:
(Adapted from Glenn C. Daman’s Shepherding the Small Church, Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2008, p. 170)
STAGE 1 – INFANT
STAGE 2 – MATURE
STAGE 3 – LEADER
|Scripture Reading||Doctrine & Theology||Leadership Skills|
|Prayer||Bible Study Skills||Mentoring Relationships|
|Service||Disciple Infants||Disciple the Mature|
|Stewardship||Shedding the Horizontal||Vertically Focused|
|Commitment (to)||To God’s Word – Truth (2 Tim. 3:16)||Christ as leader of life (Matt. 4:19)||Discipling others (Matt. 28:19-20)|
|Competence (in)||Fellowship with God through the Word and prayer & with others in God’s family (1 John 1:1-3);
Shares their personal faith story with others.
|Feed themselves on God’s Word; abiding in Christ (John 8:31-32; Hebrews 5:12);
Shares the gospel with lost people, guiding them to personal faith in Christ (Rom. 1:16).
|Follow up of new believers in Christ (Heb. 5:12);
Use their spiritual gifts effectively (1 Cor. 12:12-13).
|Character (internal – leading to external)||Sensitivity toward sin – an honesty to own up to the realities of falling short of God’s glory and His standards for us (1 John 1:9);
A genuine love for Christ (John 14:21).
|Love for others, others focus; and a servant spirit (John 13:34-35);
Self-control – exercising spiritual and personal disciplines (1 Tim. 4:7-8).
|Self-sacrificing (1 Thess. 2:8-9);
Godliness (1 Tim. 4:12; 6:11).
|Conviction (in)||Identity with Christ; loved, valuable in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17);
Belief in the Authority and reliability of the Word (1 Pete 2:2; Hebrews 4:12)
|Living by faith and the power of His Holy Spirit (Heb. 11:6);
Character of God; confident in His promises (2 Peter 1:3-4).
|Worth of every individual (Rom. 12:3-4);
Value of spiritual generations; spiritual heritage (3 John 4; 2 Tim. 2:2).
In 2009 I took a core group of leaders with me from San Diego to Dallas, Texas for an Acts 29 Boot Camp. The highlight for all of us while we were there was hearing Jonathan Dodson give a Biblical Theology on the Person and Work on the Holy Spirit from the Old and New Testament. I knew great things were going to come from this man’s life upon hearing him speak.
I hope that this will be the first of many books that Dodson writes integrating the gospel with all of life. What he does in this book in a very cogent manner is demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses in “traditional” discipleship and shows how the gospel should not be bifurcated, but central to the pre-Christian and post-Christian’s understanding of discipleship. He makes a great case for the “Great Commission” becoming the “Gospel Commission” and shows how repentance and faith in the context of community are constants in the gospel-graced disciple of Christ.
Tackling discipleship biblically, theologically, and practically Dodson has given pastors, church planters, and all kinds of Christians a wonderful handbook for understanding biblical discipleship, and how to practically live out the gospel in the context of community.
The best part of this book is how it exalts the gospel of Christ by pointing to a grace based discipleship that doesn’t err toward the extremes of self-righteousness, nor of antinomianism, but simply living out one’s new identity in Christ. According to Dodson, discipleship is our identity in Christ and everything else we are is related to our distinct roles as a disciples of Christ.
Our new identity in Christ has three distinct aspects that are developed in the book: rationality, relationship, and being missional. He also demonstrates that we must not err on the side of being only vertical (pietistic), nor horizontally oriented (missional). We must seek to diagonally balance the vertical and horizontal aspects of our identity in Christ — the head, heart, and hands aspects of discipleship in the context of community.
I highly recommend this book as one that will increase your understanding of, and application of the gospel – no matter how long you’ve been a Christian. It is one of the best books on discipleship to come out in a long time.
*Jonathan K. Dodson (M. Div; Th.M, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) serves as a pastor of Austin City Life in Austin, Texas. He has written articles in numerous blogs and journals such as The Resurgence, The Journal of Biblical Counseling, and Boundless. Dodson has discipled men and women abroad and at home for almost two decades, taking great delight in communicating the gospel and seeing Christ formed in others.
(1) A disciple is a learner – open and teachable. – Proverbs 9:8-10; Matthew 4:19; John 6:60-66.
(2) A disciple puts Christ first in all areas of life. – Matthew 6:9-13,24,33; Luke 9:23; John 13:13; 2 Corinthians 5:15.
(3) A disciple is committed to a life of purity and is taking steps to separate from sin. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Ephesians 4:22-5:5; Colossians 3:5-10; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7; Titus 2:12-14.
(4) A disciple has a daily devotional time and is developing in his or her prayer life. – Psalm 27:4; 42:1-2; Mark 1:35; Luke 11:1-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18; James 1:5-7; 5:16.
(5) A disciple demonstrates faithfulness and a desire to learn and apply the Word of God through hearing it preached and taught, reading it frequently, Bible study, Scripture memory, and meditation on the Scriptures. – John 8:31; Acts 2:42; 17:11; Colossians 3:16; 2 Timothy 2:15
(6) A disciple has a heart for witnessing, gives his or her testimony clearly, and presents the gospel regularly with increasing skill. – Matt.28:18-20; Acts 1:8; 5:42; 14:21-23; 22:14-15; Rom.1:16; 1 Cor.15:3-4; 1 Thessalonians 2:4.
(7) A disciple attends church regularly to worship God, to have his or her spiritual needs met, and to make a contribution to the body of believers. – Ps.122:1; Acts 16:5; 1 Cor.12:12-27; Col.1:15-18; Heb.10:25
(8) A disciple fellowships regularly with other believers, displaying love and unity. – John 17:22-26; Acts 2:44-47; 4:31-33; Ephesians 4:1-3; Hebrews 10:24; 1 John 1:1-3
(9) A disciple demonstrates a servant heart by helping in practical ways. – Mark 10:42-45; Acts 6:1-4; 2 Corinthians 12:15; Philippians 2:25-30; 1 Thessalonians 2:8-9
(10) A disciple gives regularly and honors God with his or her finances. – Haggai 1:6-9; Malachi 3:10-11; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 8-9; Philemon 14
(11) A disciple demonstrates the fruit of the Spirit by an attractive relationship with Christ and those he or she relates with. – Acts 16:1-2; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Peter 2:18-23; 2 Peter 1:5-8
*Adapted from Essentials of Discipleship by Francis M. Cosgrove, pp. 15-16
((Adapted from Stephen A Macchia, Becoming A Healthy Disciple, pp. 18-19)
(1) Experiences God’s empowering presence. The healthy disciple understands the role of the Holy Spirit and lives daily with a fresh reality of His power and presence. But the Helper the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. – John 14:26
(2) Engages in God-exalting worship. The healthy disciple engages wholeheartedly in meaningful, God-focused worship on a weekly basis with the family of God. But the hour is coming and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him. – John 4:23
(3) Practices the spiritual disciplines. The healthy disciple pursues the daily disciplines of prayer, Bible study, and reflection in the quietness of one’s personal prayer closet. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. – John 15:4
(4) Learns and grows in community. The healthy disciple is involved in spiritual and relational growth in the context of a safe and affirming group of like-minded believers. When they did [obey Jesus], they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. – John 21:6
(5) Commits to loving and caring relationships. The healthy disciple prioritizes the qualities of relational vitality that lead to genuine love for one another in the home, workplace, church, and community. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. – John 15:12-13
(6) Exhibits Christlike servanthood. The healthy disciple practices God-honoring servanthood in every relational context of life and ministry. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. – John 13:15
(7) Shares the love of Christ generously. The healthy disciple maximizes every opportunity to share the love of Christ, in word and deed, with those outside the faith. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16
(8) Manages life wisely and accountably. The healthy disciple develops personal life management skills and lives within a web of accountable relationships. As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. John 9:4
(9) Networks with the body of Christ. The healthy disciple actively reaches out to others within the Christian community for relationships, worship, prayer, fellowship, and ministry. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. – John 17:23
(10) Stewards a life of abundance. The healthy disciple recognizes that every resource comes from the hand of God and is to be used generously for kingdom priorities and purposes. Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. – John 12:24
Veteran British church planters Steve Timmis and Tim Chester have put together a very helpful workbook for churches that desire to be more intentionally & strategically gospel driven. In three loaded sections this guide (suited ideally for discipleship, leadership teams, or small group’s of various kinds) covers six sessions on the Priority of Mission; six sessions on the Priority of People; and another six sessions on the Priority of Community and the last chapter which is on why “It’s all about the gospel.” This book is ideal as a workbook for church planting core groups, or churches that want to be more missional and multiplicational in their process of making and maturing disciples of Christ.
Each chapter stands alone and contains the following five sections:
Consider this – A scenario—often based on a real-life situation—which raises some kind of dilemma or frustration in gospel ministry.
Biblical background – A relevant Bible passage together with some questions to help you think it through.
Read all about it – A discussion of the principle, both in terms of its theological underpinning and its contemporary application.
Questions for reflection – Questions that can be used for group discussion or personal reflection.
Ideas for action – Some ideas or an exercise to help people think through the application of the principle to their own situation.
I think this is a phenomenal resource that helps a church think through how to contextualize the gospel message in its own unique setting. It is concise, deep, Christ exalting, biblical, gospel oriented, God-glorifying and extremely practical. I can’t recommend this resource highly enough.