To Growth or Not to Grow, The choice of Every Believer
Who wants to be a disciple of Jesus? It turns out the disciples are made and not born. But of course every new believer of God’s kingdom comes about through a spiritual birth. And just like the birth of a child in the physical world, it is a wonderful event. But it is not the end of the process; it is the beginning. What follows are years of growth, training and experiences which result in maturity that in turn brings joy and a life of continual fruit bearing. This is true not only for our physical lives but for spiritual lives as well; we all have a need for continual spiritual growth. Let us begin by looking at what God has provided to assist our growth.
Read Ephesians 4:7-15. What are the five reasons why Christ gave the church apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers in verses 12-14?
And what are the end results that these five objectives will archive according to last half of verse 13 and verse 14?
Read 1 Peter 2:2. Along with these gifted individual what else has the Lord provided to assists us in our spiritual growth?
The Apostle Paul states that Christ gave us apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers so that we would reach full maturity in Christ and no longer live as children. What differences can you think of between adults and children?
Is it good to remain a child for one’s entire life?
Read Hebrews 5:12, 13. How does the writer characterize those who can not handle the solid food kind of teaching from the word?
It is acceptable then to remain spiritually immature?
If not, then what is the solution?
Our growth as followers of Christ is not automatic; it requires each of us to make a decision and a commitment to grow.
Spiritual Growth Through Discipleship
Discipleship is the Lord’s answer to the believer’s need for spiritual growth. A disciple is a learner, one who has dedicated himself to imitating the teachings and practices of his master. Read Mark 1:16-18. Jesus calls Simon and Andrew; what qualities did they demonstrate in their decision to follow Jesus?
Consider the backgrounds of Simon and Andrew. What does Jesus’ choice of these individuals tell us about the kind of people that he is looking for?
It seems that Jesus was not looking for the most educated or the most devout people. He was looking for those who were willing to make themselves available to him to carry out the work of God.
It is More Than a Course of Topics to Study
Notice also discipleship is not just a course of study of various topics of religion; Jesus is personally involved in the process. Discipleship includes the growth of our relationship with Christ Jesus, the Messiah, God’s Anointed One. It is about us getting to know him better and better each day and to develop greater trust in him and his word. Thus we will grow in our ability to hear, obey him and carry out the task he assigns us.
Becoming a Disciple Requires a Serious Commitment to Obeying God’s Word
Read John 8:31-32. What did Jesus say would take place in those who remained in his word?
What truth was Jesus talking about? Well, Jesus’ message was about the arrival of the kingdom of God (Mark 1:14, 15); a domain, according to Jesus’ description, that was vastly different from the realm that his listeners had ever experienced. Those who whole hearted accepted him and his teaching would experience a new birth and would become members of God’s kingdom; a kingdom which was not yet established in this world, but rather would began to take shape on the inside each believer and would influence and transform the world around him.
In this passage we could substitute the word ‘persist’ in place of ‘remain’ to better understand Jesus’ instruction. If we will know the truth only when we persist in his word.
Next read John 15:7 and 8. Now Jesus speaks about the abiding; as a disciple we are to abide, (that is to remain, stay attached and focused on him) and his word must abide within us (that is it remains, is at home, it stays continually stored and maintained and it is predominated over our thoughts, words and actions). What three things result for our abiding in Christ and his word?
True Discipleship will Demonstrate Christ’s Love to Others
Read John 13:34, 35. What was Christ’s command to his followers?
Did Jesus give us any other command that was more important than this one?
What will be demonstrated to the world when we obey Christ’s command?
Read John 15:13. What kind of love is Jesus directing his disciples to show?
There are Some Cost Associated with Becoming a Discipleship of Jesus
Doesn’t these things all sound great! But wait, there are costs involved with become a disciple of Jesus. Let’s look at these cost.
Read Luke 9:23, 24. Jesus tells us in order to be his disciples we must learn to deny ourselves; to loose sight of ourselves, to give up our own interest , agendas and purposes and seek his purposes.
Read Luke 14:25-26. Jesus tells us in order to be his disciples we must recognize that there can be no relationship of greater importance to us than our relationship with him. Note in verse 26, Jesus uses the word ‘hate’ only as in comparison to one’s love for him.
Read Luke 14:33. Jesus tells us in order to be his disciples we must not have any possession that is of greater value to us than him. Note that this is not a command to Christians to give up all their possessions but a admonition to be ready to let go any possessions that the Lord should ask us to give.
Also see Matthew 8:18-22, Matthew 10:38, 39 and Luke 14:27-32.
Let us note here that Jesus experienced these same conditions. Let’s go back to John 8 and read verses 25 – 29. Notice that Jesus did not speak his own thoughts and opinions, rather he spoke only what His Father told him to say. We see him saying similar things in John 5:19, 5:30, 12:49, 50, 14:10, 24. And remember what Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane as recorded in Matthew 26:39, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from me; nevertheless, not what I desire, but what you desire.” Our Lord Jesus counted the cost and paid the price required to follow God’s plan. From his example we can learn to do the same.
Thus, becoming a disciple of Jesus is not easy and it can be costly. How much will it cost us? It could cost us every thing we have and even our lives. But being a disciple is not without its rewards. Jesus told his disciples in Mark 10:28-30,
Peter began to tell him, “Behold, we have left all, and have followed you.” Jesus said, “Most assuredly I tell you, there is no one who has left house, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or land, for my sake, and for the gospel’s sake, but he will receive one hundred times more now in this time, houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and land, with persecutions; and in the age to come eternal life.
Thus, if we are to succeed as disciples of Christ we must understand that at times it will be costly for us to stay faithful to him. Yet, our sacrifice will be of great value to the Lord Jesus Christ, to others and ultimately to ourselves.
Disciples are Part of a Body of Believers
Fortunately, we will not be alone as we follow Christ; each of us are individual members of the whole body of believers. We are not to attempt to function independent of the rest of the body. Our purpose will be fulfilled as we working in cooperation and fellowship with other believers. Read Acts 2:42-47. List the different activities that the disciples were involved in together:
As a result of their fellowship with one another the disciples were able to draw upon their strengths and resources to assist each other. That is the way Christ meant for his body to function.
Disciples with Reproduce Themselves
The final aspect of discipleship is that Christ’s disciples seek to bring others into God’s kingdom and develop them into disciples. Read Matthew 28:18-20.
Did Jesus say to go and make converts?
Who are the people that we are to make into disciples?
What are we to teach them?
Read 2 Timothy 2:2. What is the process outlined by the Apostle Paul for communicating Christ’s message to the world?
Jesus calls us to follow him, not just in name but in practice. It is a life-style of those who desire to reach maturity in Christ which teaches us to
- To abide or stay connected to him
- To abide and persist in his word
- To learn to love others with the same selfless love that Jesus demonstrated
- To grow in our relationship with Christ and become more like him
- To consider the costs that we may encounter for following Christ
- To not allow any purpose, relationship or possession to take precedence over Christ
- And to increase the body of Christ by bring others to faith in Christ and making them into disciples
Copyright © 2009-2011 by Alan Pasho, www.disciplepedia.org. All rights reserved.
Recommended Memory Verses on Discipleship
You will receive insight, comfort and encouragement from memorizing verses such as these along with their scripture references. Go over them twice a day until you can quote them word for word. Then review them once each month.
Mark 1:17 – Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you into fishers for men.”
John 8:31-32 – As he spoke these things, many believed in him. Jesus therefore said to those Jews who had believed him, “If you remain in my word, then you are truly my disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
John 15:7,8 – If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, you will ask whatever you desire, and it will be done for you. “In this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit; and so you will be my disciples.
Luke 9:23, 24 – He said to all, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever will lose his life for my sake, the same will save it.
Luke 14:25-26 – Now great multitudes were going with him. He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me, and doesn’t hate his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he can’t be my disciple.
Luke 14:33 – So therefore whoever of you who doesn’t renounce all that he has, he can’t be my disciple.
Copyright © 2009-2011 by Alan Pasho, www.disciplepedia.org. All rights reserved.
Scriptures taken from the Word English Bible (WEB)