Summary: Discipleship, the process of change.
Today we will be continuing with our look at 5 foundational purposes of the church. You will also find that these principles should become foundational purposes of each of our lives.
Last week we looked at the purpose of evangelism. Today we will be exploring the purpose of discipleship. You might call this the process of moving a new believer towards full maturity in Christ.
Let’s start off with two background scriptures. The first is Matthew 28:19-20.
“Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to do everything I have told you. I will be with you always, even until the end of the world.”
The second background passage this morning comes from 2 Timothy:
“Everything in the Scriptures is God’s Word. All of it is useful for teaching and helping people and for correcting them and showing them how to live. The Scriptures train God’s servants to do all kinds of good deeds.”
You may already be seeing that God is outlining a process for each of us. A process of transformation. But before we get into the process, we should probably answer the first question. So What Is A Disciple?
For starters a disciple is a student. One who studies the teachings of another. God has given us clear direction that we are to be students of His word.
“…Never stop reading the book of the law he gave you. Day and night you must think about what it says.”
“I will study your teachings and follow Your footsteps.”
Now look at the last few words in that last verse. "...and follow Your footsteps." Not only is a disciple a student, but a disciple must also be a follower.
“Then Jesus said to His disciples:
‘If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow me.’”
“You cannot be my disciple, unless you love me more than you love your father and mother, your wife and children, and your brothers and sisters. You cannot come with me unless you love me more than you love your own life.”
Lastly, a disciple is an imitator. One who takes the example and teachings of another and utilizes those things in their own life.
“You must follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”
A disciple is literally one who becomes like Jesus. Their words, their actions, their thoughts and their passions all mirror the same attributes as those revealed in Christ.
So now that we know what a disciple is, let’s talk about the process. Discipleship is the transformation process leading us to be true disciples. Discipleship in the church and in our personal lives is expressed in 5 distinct areas:
Let’s start with inspiration, or what we might call "The Idea." Discipleship paints a picture of what could be. For a Christian the idea is our complete transformation from inside out. This inspiration is the source of our internal motivation. Inspiration instills within us a desire for change. Inspiration has a clearly defined end result. Our inspiration is to become Christ-like.
The second factor in discipleship is motivation. Let’s call motivation – “The Encouragement.” The motivation of discipleship keeps us going when we want to give up. Look at some of the motivation found in scripture.
“We never give up. Our bodies are gradually dying, but we ourselves are being made stronger each day.”
“Christ gives me the strength to face anything.”
Discipleship keeps the end result of the process in front of us. I think of athletes that keep a picture of their goal in front of them daily. To keep them motivated in their efforts.
“We must keep our eyes on Jesus, who leads us and makes our faith complete…”
Discipleship holds us accountable in our efforts. Have any of you ever gotten involved in a weight training program. I know back in my serious weight lifting days, my greatest accomplishments came when I was accountable to someone else. Look at what the Bible tells us about accountability to one another.
“Just as iron sharpens iron, friends sharpen the minds of each other.”
The next part of the discipleship process is education. Let’s call this “The Tools” of discipleship. I can have an inspiration, and even be motivated, but if I have no knowledge of the subject it is merely a dream. Discipleship teaches the process. Look at the uses for the scripture.
“Everything in the scriptures is God’s Word. All of it is useful for teaching and helping people and for correcting them and showing them how to live. The Scriptures train God’s servants to do all kinds of good deeds.”