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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 Mystery of the Holy Spirit by R. C. Sproul

 How To Know The Holy Spirit Personally and Intimately

 Many times as a pastor I have heard Christians refer to the Holy Spirit as an “it,” or a “power/force,” or the like. I have also heard many times that the most abstract member of the trinity to many Christians is the Holy Spirit. It has been my own experience that I have had to work harder to understand and know the Holy Spirit more than any other Person in the Trinity. In this book Dr. Sproul writes with profound insight, biblical acumen, and exegetical precision and gradually peels away the mysteries surrounding the third Person in the Trinity.

There are ten good reasons to read this book and its because each chapter handles a distinct important aspect of the character or attributes of the Holy Spirit and Sproul then cogently and articulately explains the ramifications for us theologically and then practically.

In chapter one Dr. Sproul asks and answers the question “Who is the Holy Spirit?” by using various Scriptures demonstrating that the Holy Spirit is a “person;” that we are called to a have a “personal relationship with him;” and that he performs “personal tasks.”

In chapter two the author gives a plethora of Scriptures and some very good logical arguments like this one: “Were the Holy Spirit not God, it is extremely unlikely that blasphemy against Him would be regarded as unpardonable,” to show very clearly that the Bible teaches the deity of the Holy Spirit in both the Old and New Testaments.

In chapter three Dr. Sproul tackles and dismantles the most common objections raised against the Trinity and deals with them historically, biblically, and philosophically. He answers the following objections with great erudition, concise simplicity, and with immense sagacity:

Objection #1: The Word “Trinity” is not a biblical word and represents the invasion of foreign philosophy into biblical revelation.

Objection #2: The doctrine of the Trinity is contradictory and therefore irrational.

He demonstrates clearly in this chapter that the Trinitarian formula is neither contradictory nor irrational—rather it is biblical and logical.

Chapter four is vintage Sproul. Dr. Sproul is known for his outstanding vocabulary and for making things clear by explaining the meaning of words with reference to his subject of discussion. Dr. Sproul takes the time in this chapter to define the meanings and distinctions of the Holy Spirit as “essence” and “person.” He explains this by elaborating on three concepts: contradiction, paradox, and mystery with reference to our understanding of the Holy Spirit’s character and attributes.

Chapter five is a wonderful explanation of God the Holy Spirit’s work in physical and spiritual creation. He summarizes the chapter in this manner: “It is the Holy Spirit who supplies the dynamic for the created world. By His power the universe has life and motion…there is a parallel between the Spirit’s work in creation and redemption. As He is the generating power of biological life, so is He the source and generating power of spiritual life. His work in redemption mirrors and supplements His work in creation. He works both in creation and re-creation of a fallen world.”

In Chapter six Dr. Sproul gives a masterful presentation on what it means to be “born-again” or “regenerated” by the Holy Spirit. He demonstrates from John 3 and Ephesians 2 how we are “dead” spiritually and must be “made alive” by the Holy Spirit in order to be saved. He gives an outstanding presentation of why regeneration must precede faith and obliterates the much believed idea that faith + rebirth = justification.

Chapter seven is a wonderful articulation of the eternal security of those who are indeed regenerate. Sproul gives a very good presentation on the biblical distinctions of justification (monergistically – God alone working to save us); and sanctification (synergistically – the cooperation between the Holy Spirit and us).

I think chapter 8 on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is perhaps the best in the book. The baptism of the Spirit may be one of the least understood issues in theology today. Dr. Sproul brings great clarity and synthesis to a better understanding of this doctrine and its immense importance. The thesis he defends is summed up at the end of the chapter in this manner:

“I am not saying that everyone who is a member of a Christian church has the Holy Spirit. Membership in the visible church no more guarantees the baptism of the Holy Spirit than it guarantees salvation. We know that there are unbelievers who are church members. No unbeliever has the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but every believer, every regenerate person, does have the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Every Christian from Pentecost to the present is both regenerate of the Spirit and baptized in the Spirit. That is the essence of the meaning of Pentecost. Anything less casts a shadow over the sacred importance of Pentecost in the history of redemption. Any person who is regenerate is also sealed by the Spirit, baptized in the Spirit, and has the earnest of the Spirit.”

In chapter nine we have a great exposition of Galatians 5 contrasting the works of the flesh and the work of the Spirit, and lastly in chapter ten Dr. Sproul shows how the Holy Spirit is Christ’s Vicar on earth to empower, comfort, and use us for the glory of Christ.

Honestly, I’m surprised this book has not been a BIG seller. As far as I’m concerned it is the best book bridging great scholarship in laymen’s terms on the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit in the English language. I have read over twenty books on the Holy Spirit – and this is my third time through Sproul’s work, and it is still the one I would recommend most if you are going to read one book on the Holy Spirit.

*Dr. R.C. Sproul is the founder, chairman and president of Ligonier Ministries, an international Christian education ministry located near Orlando, Florida. His teaching can be heard on the program Renewing Your Mind, which is broadcast on hundreds of radio outlets in the United States and in 40 countries worldwide. He is the executive editor of Tabletalk magazine and general editor of The Reformation Study Bible, and the author of more than seventy books and scores of articles for national evangelical publications. Dr. Sproul also serves as president of Ligonier Academy of Biblical and Theological Studies and Reformation Bible College. He currently serves as senior minister of preaching and teaching at Saint Andrew’s in Sanford, FL.

 

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Book Review: Essential Truths of The Christian Faith by R. C. Sproul

Next to the Bible and R.C. Sproul’s book “The Holiness of God” I have given away more copies of this book than anything else for a few reasons:

1)    Everyone is a theologian – but most people are weak theologians (In other words everyone – even atheists have an opinion about God and truth). This book helps you to become a better theologian. It covers all the major doctrines of the Bible in a succinct, logical, and clear manner.

2)    It’s organization – Each chapter is brief, yet packed with a practical discussion of the doctrine; evidence for it’s importance from the Scriptures; an itemized summary listing the major points made in the chapter (usually 5-6 key points); and a list of 5-6 Biblical references for further reflection and study.

3)    It’s breadth and depth of coverage – It is divided up into Major Doctrinal sections with sub topics for each doctrine – therefore it can be used as q quick reference tool on 102 different topics of the Scripture. For example, under the first section on Revelation of the Scriptures, you can look up chapter 7 on “The Canon of Scripture” to see how the Bible came to be formed and accepted as the authoritative Word of God, or chapter 8 on some basic principles of “How to Interpret the Bible.”

Here are the Contents of the Book (Each Chapter is Approximately 2-4 pages long:

Section I. Revelation (1. Divine Revelation; 2. Paradox, Mystery, and Contradiction; 3. Immediate, and Mediate General Revelation; 4. Special Revelation and the Bible; 5. The Law of God; 6. The Prophets of God; 7. The Canon of the Bile; 8. Interpreting the Bible; 9. Private Interpretation)

Section II The Nature and Attributes of God (10. The Incomprehensibility of God; 11. The Tri-unity of God; 12. The Self-Existence of God; 13: The Omnipotence of God; 14. The Omnipresence of God; 15. The Omniscience of God; 16. The Holiness of God; 17. The Goodness of God; 18. The Justice of God)

Section III The Works and Decrees of God (19. Creation; 20. Providence; 21. Miracles; 22. The Will of God; 23. Covenant; 24. Covenant of Works)

Section IV. Jesus Christ (25. The Deity of Christ; 26. The Subordination of Christ; 27. The Humanity of Christ; 28. The Sinlessness of Christ; 29. The Virgin Birth; 30. Jesus Christ as the Only Begotten; 31. The Baptism of Christ; 32. The Glory of Christ; 33. The Ascension of Christ; 34. Jesus Christ as Mediator; 35. The Threefold Office of Christ; 36. The Titles of Jesus)

Section V. The Holy Spirit (37. The Deity of the Holy Spirit; 38. The Personality of the Holy Spirit; 39. The Internal Testimony of the Holy Spirit; 40. The Illumination of the Holy Spirit; 41. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit; 42. The Holy Spirit as Comforter; 43. The Holy Spirit as Sanctifier)

Section VI. Human Beings and the Fall (44. Knowledge of Self and Knowledge of God; 45. Human Beings Created in the Image of God; 46. Human Beings as Body and Soul; 47. Human Beings as Flesh and Spirit; 48. Satan; 49. Demons; 50. Sin; 51. Original Sin; 52. Human Depavity; 53. Human Conscience; 54. The Unfrogiveable Sin; 55. Syncretism)

Section VII. Salvation (56. Salvation; 57. Predestination; 58. Predestination and Reprobation; 59. Effectual Calling; 60. Rebirth; 61. Atonement; 62. Definite Atonement; 63. Free Will; 64. Faith; 65. Saving Faith; 66. Justification by Faith; 67. Faith and Works; 68. Repentance; 69. Merit and Grace; 70. Perseverance of the Saints; 71. The Assurance of Salvation; 72. The Intermediate State; 73. The Last Resurrection; 74. Glorification)

Section VIII. The Church and Sacraments (75. The Apostles; 76. The Church; 77. The Marks of a True Church; 78. Excommunication; 79. The Sacraments; 80. Baptism; 81. Infant Baptism; 82. The Lord’s Supper; 83. Transubstantiation; 84. The Sabbath; 85. Oaths and Vows)

Section IX. Spirituality and Living in This Age (86. The Fruit of the Spirit; 87. Love; 88. Hope; 89. Prayer; 90. Antinomianism; 91. Legalism; 92. The Threefold Use of the Law; 93. Perfectionism; 94. Civil Government; 95. Marriage; 96. Divorce)

Section X. End Times (97. The Antichrist; 98. The Return of Christ; 99. The Kingdom of God; 100. Heaven; 101. The Beatific Vision. 102. Hell)

End Notes

Suggested Reading: He lists two-five helpful books for each of the ten sections.

I don’t agree with everything Sproul says in this book (He is a Covenant Theologian – I am coming from more of a “Reformed Baptist” perspective), however, I always learn something, or I’m reminded of something important whenever I read him. He is a master communicator – He is a deep and practical thinker, and easy to understand. I think he is the finest theologian of our generation. I believe anyone reading or using this book as a quick reference and introduction to all the major doctrines of the Bible will benefit immensely from its contents. I have given this book to many High School and College Graduates over the years, as well as to new followers of Jesus Christ. Many of those recipients have gone on to become outstanding students and teachers of God’s Word.

 

*Dr. Robert Charles Sproul was born in 1939 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is the founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, which started as the Ligonier Valley Study Center in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, more than thirty years ago. In an effort to respond more effectively to the growing demand for Dr. Sproul’s teachings and Ligonier’s other educational resources, the general offices were moved to Orlando, Florida, in 1984, and the ministry was renamed “Ligonier Ministries.”

Dr. R.C. Sproul is featured daily on Renewing Your Mind, an international radio broadcast that has aired for more than ten years with an estimated two million people tuning in every week on more than 235 radio outlets in the United States and throughout more than 40 countries. Dr. Sproul is a respected teacher, theologian, and pastor. He is currently serving as the director of Serve International, and as senior minister of preaching and teaching at Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Florida. Dr. Sproul is ordained as a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.

In addition, Dr. Sproul was the general editor of The Reformation Study Bible, which was also known as The New Geneva Study Bible, and he is the executive editor of Tabletalk magazine. As a prolific author he has written more than 60 books and scores of articles for national evangelical publications. Dr. Sproul has produced more than 300 lecture series and has recorded more than 80 video series on subjects such as the history of philosophy, theology, Bible study, apologetics, and Christian living. He signed the 1978 Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, which affirmed the traditional view of biblical inerrancy, and he wrote a commentary on that document titled Explaining Inerrancy.

Dr. Sproul completed his undergraduate work at Westminster College, and then went on to earn three postgraduate degrees at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Free University of Amsterdam, and Geneva College, and he has had a distinguished academic teaching career at various colleges and seminaries, including Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida, and Jackson, Mississippi, and Knox Theological Seminary in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

Ligonier Ministries:

In 1971, a group of Christian leaders at Dr. R.C. Sproul’s church approached him with the intent of establishing a study center in Ligonier Valley, Pennsylvania. This study center provided a place where lay people could receive the benefits of seminary-level teaching without having to attend seminary. Christians from all over the United States attended the Ligonier Valley Study Center to hear Dr. Sproul and other leading evangelical scholars. The sessions provided the students and teachers an opportunity to explore the truths of Scripture, the great doctrines of classical Christianity, and develop spiritual disciplines. Many relished the chance to learn how to be articulate defenders of the faith.

From the outset, a goal of the Ligonier Valley Study Center was to provide educational materials to all Christians, even if they could not attend lectures at the study center. As a result, lectures were recorded and made available around the country. In an effort to respond more effectively to the growing demand for Dr. Sproul’s teachings and Ligonier’s other educational resources, the general offices were moved to Orlando, Florida, in 1984. At this time, the organization changed its name to Ligonier Ministries.

In 2001, Ligonier Ministries celebrated 30 years of ministry. As the need for substantive Christian resources continues to rise, Ligonier Ministries looks for new outlets to proclaim the holiness of God. Ligonier Ministries carries out its mission primarily through the teaching of its chairman — author and theologian Dr. R.C. Sproul.

Ligonier Ministries offers more than 360 teaching series on subjects including apologetics, biblical studies, philosophy, ethics, Christian theology, and discipleship in audiocassette, CD, DVD, and video formats. Each series is appropriate for individual or group study, and many have study guides available to enhance the learning process.

Ligonier Ministries offers over 400 books from more than 100 classic and modern authors. Topics include church history, Christian living, apologetics, biblical studies, systematic theology, family issues, and children’s interest.

Ligonier Ministries presents a national conference each spring in Orlando, Florida, to provide extensive study of a particular biblical theme or issue. Thousands gather to fellowship with other believers, as they explore and affirm biblical truths under Dr. Sproul and other evangelical scholars. In the fall, Ligonier hosts several regional conferences throughout the country and a special pastors conference in Orlando.

Since 1979, Ligonier Ministries has published the daily Bible study magazine Tabletalk. Each month, feature articles develop an important biblical, theological, or cultural issue. Daily Bible studies take readers through a systematic study of one or more books of the Bible every year. Thousands turn to this magazine for in-depth Bible study and helpful articles on important topics by Dr. Sproul and other noted pastors and theologians.

Since 1994, Renewing Your Mind with Dr. R.C. Sproul (RYM) has provided sound, in-depth teaching to those who might otherwise never receive it. This braodcast is available on more than 235 radio outlets in the United States to a potential audience of 2.5 million people per week and is also available to countless other throughout the world via shortwave radio.

In 2003, Ligonier Ministries established a music division to promote the sense of reverence and gravitas found in more classical forms of Christian worship. There are recordings by the Atlanta Boy Choir, various international orchestral and choral groups, a full selection of classical Christmas albums, and several resources featuring Grammy award-winning tenor Stuart Neill performing new arrangements of classic hymns. The Classic Sermon Series and other audio productions are also being released in an effort to reintroduce some of the great sermons of the past to Christians today.

A long-standing goal of the ministry was to move into the book-publishing market. In September 2004, Soli Deo Gloria (SDG) became a division of Ligonier Ministries and the first step in reaching that goal.

In keeping with this step, Ligonier Ministries released Reformation Trust Publishing in 2006. This new imprint will be committed to publishing books that help readers develop a closer walk with God through a deeper understanding of the Scriptures and the historic Christian faith. It aims to become a trusted resource for the church by producing biblically and theologically solid books using high-quality materials to ensure a lengthy shelf life. Three of its first releases were Dr. R.C. Sproul’s A Taste of Heaven and The Lightlings and Dr. Steven Lawson’s Foundations of Grace.

 

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