Lesson 17: Discipleship

"What Is Discipleship and Its Importance in My Christian Life?"

There is no shortage of biblical materials in our Western World. Bibles, books, tapes, tracts, Internet and the like are found in plentiful supply. If there is a missing ingredient, it is the process of biblical discipleship, i.e., a loving, caring, selfless Christian who is committed to teach another “All things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20).

The Purpose of this lesson is to acquaint you with the principles and importance of biblical discipleship. Revival, evangelism, discipleship and missions, all energizes by effectual, fervent prayer, done in a spirit of charity, are the lifeblood of the Church.

    1. Disciple’s Purpose is to Become Like His Master Christ and to Adhere Strictly to His Teaching and Truth
    2. All Christians are not disciples! Discipleship, like salvation, involves a conscious decision to follow the Savior whatever the cost.
    3. There are five primary ministerial goals that serve to fulfill the biblical command of what we call “The Great Commission.” They are as follows:
      1. To evangelize the world (Acts 1:8; Mark 16:15)
      2. To establish edifying churches (Acts 11:19-26)
      3. To build individual disciples (Matthew 28:18-20; Ephesians 4:11-16; 2 Timothy 2:2; 2 Peter 3:18)
      4. To bring disciples and their churches to Christ-likeness (Romans 8:29; Galatians 4:19)
      5. To bring glory to God (Isaiah 43:7; Romans 11:36; 1 Corinthians 10:31)

Discipleship Is the Pivotal Element Between Goals 1&2 and 4&5

Although Christ certainly evangelized and established His Church, He never built what we would call a "big" church during His ministry. His goal was to leave 12 men behind at His ascension that could do what He had done. His 3 1/2 year ministry was primarily a discipleship ministry.

In the establishment of New Testament churches, Paul the Apostle understood and taught this principle when he said, "And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also" (2 Timothy 2:2)

Jesus said, "Teaching them to observe all things...." This is not primarily a pulpit process but a personal, people process, one on one!

Personal Discipleship Accomplishes Many Things

    1. Discipleship establishes the Christian in the foundational truths of biblical Christianity (1 Thessalonians 3:2).
    2. Discipleship provides the Christian with a caring, comforting friend to help him through the difficulties of transformation (1 Thessalonians 3:2)
    3. Discipleship affords the Christian additional spiritual protection through the counsel and prayer support of a mature Christian (1 Thessalonians 3:2)
    4. Discipleship provides mutual accountability both to the disciple and discipler. the accountability factor affords both with motivation to grow in Christ and walk in faith (1 Thessalonians 3:6).
    5. Discipleship provides fellowship. The Christian needs Christian friends. The discipler assumes the role and responsibilities of a friend and serves to introduce his disciple to others in his fellowship (1 Thessalonians 3:6)
    6. Discipleship provides the Christian with encouragement. The discipler serves to motivate the Christian to higher levels of growth, dedication and commitment (1 Thessalonians 3:8)
    7. Discipleship brings the Christian toward perfection or maturity in Christ, "And he gave some...teachers; for the perfecting of the saints..." (Ephesians 4:11-12; 1 Thessalonians 3:10).
    8. Discipleship most naturally leads to ministry rather than mere activity. Many Christians are in motion, few are in ministry. Discipleship exemplifies what Christianity is all about, people serving other people (1 Thessalonians 3:12).
    9. Discipleship provides the Christian with a living picture of what a Christian ought to be. The discipler becomes the disciple's example (1 Thessalonians 3:12)
    10. Discipleship provides godly counsel to the disciple. It divides the load of the counseling ministry among those in the local church body (1 Thessalonians 3:13).
    11. Discipleship, therefore, in accomplishing all of these purposes, must bring forth glory to God (1 Thessalonians 3:13).

Our Discipleship Investment Is Intended to Bring Forth a Godly Product

    1. In fact, our ultimate goal is to bring glory to God. What should the final product look like? Our goal for our disciple is to bring him to:
      1. Loyalty and obedience to Christ (Luke 14:26)
      2. Submission and selflessness (Luke 14:26)
      3. Focus and tenacity (Luke 14:27)
      4. Priorities and perspective (Luke 14:33)
      5. Reading, studying and meditation (John 8:31)
      6. Charity (John 13:35; 2 Peter 1:4-8)
      7. Fruit bearing (John 15:8, 15-16)
    2. The growth process should focus on these principles found in 2 Peter 1:5-7.
      1. faith
      2. virtue
      3. knowledge
      4. temperance
      5. patience
      6. godliness
      7. brotherly kindness
      8. charity

"For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:8).

Discipleship Involves a Number of Things

The Lord Jesus Christ stated what some call The Disciple's Oath in Luke 9:23, "...If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." This biblical commitment to discipleship involves at least these five things:

    1. Desire: "If any man..."
    2. Decision: "will come after me..."
    3. Denial: "let him deny himself..."
    4. Dedication: "take up his cross daily..."
    5. Determination: "and follow me..."

"Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you..." (Matthew 28:20)

Key Memory Verses

"And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me" (Luke 9:23).

"And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also" (2 Timothy 2:2)

Additional Thoughts

Some popular attitudes in many churches today are:

    1. The most important emphasis is to lead someone to a profession of faith in Christ.
    2. Salvation automatically brings one to Christ-likeness.
    3. Discipleship is just another program.

From the Bible principles taught in this lesson, you should understand that these teachings are false, and why.