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10 Principles of Discipleship

FTM Michael J. Wilkins
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.”[1] 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.[2]  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).”[3]  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.[4]

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.


[1] Michael J. Wilkins, Following the Master: A Biblical Theology of Discipleship (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 40.

[2] 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.

[3] Michael J. Wilkins, Following the Master: A Biblical Theology of Discipleship (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 133.

[4] 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.

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Posted by on August 29, 2013 in Discipleship, Relationships

 

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Book Review: The Gospel Centered Church by Steve Timmis and Tim Chester

A Fantastic Resource For Making Multiplying Disciples

 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.

 

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Book Review COMMUNITY: Taking Your Small Group Off Life Support by Brad House

An Exceptional Resource For Building and Sustaining Multiplying Missional Communities

Brad House is on staff at Mars Hill Church in Seattle – a church that is solid theologically, philosophically, and missionally. They are a church that is exceptional in theological depth and missional outreach in impacting their culture for the sake of Christ. The message of the gospel comes through loud and clear, and without compromise in both their corporate and communal contexts. In one of the least churched cities in America they have proven that what took place in the book of Acts, is still possible today – especially through the medium of the teaching of the Word and its balanced application within the context of community groups.

According to the author one study indicates that less than 18% of young evangelicals ages 18-23 participate in a small group, Bible study, or prayer group that is sponsored by their local churches. This book is not only written to combat this problem, but provides ample Biblical solutions and real life illustrations of how to build a solid foundation for building community groups that are healthy and result in personal, corporate, and communal life transformation via living out the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I highly recommend this book for the following types of people:

1)    Senior Pastors – It will motivate you to launch community groups in your church and help you to be more strategic and missional in your ministries of in reach and outreach.

2)    Existing Small Group Leaders and Participants – It will help give you ideas, tools, and applications that you have never thought of – in order to have a more effective, strategic, and balanced community group.

3)    Church Planters – This book will give you a huge jump-start on what you need to launch a healthy church that provides ideas for training, equipping, and providing the infrastructure needed to have a healthy and growing gospel centered church.

Overall, I loved this book because it’s Biblical, practical, and comprehensive in scope. Any one who loves Christ and His church will benefit from the study and practical implementation of this excellent resource for building gospel communities that make a huge difference for the glory of Christ.

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2011 in Book Reviews, Small Group Resources

 

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