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1 Corinthians 9:11
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Relationship With Jesus
The Key To Effective Ministry

Section 8, Chapter 1

What is Discipleship?

Chapter Illustration

Page 1 of 2

Study Questions:

  1. What are the four main goals of discipleship?

horizontal rule

What is discipleship? In order to answer this question we must first ask the question, "What is Christianity?" According to Sections 2 and 4 in this textbook, Christianity is relationship with Jesus. What do we mean by relationship with Jesus? Relationship means no longer being motivated through our souls: our intellect and feelings; or our flesh: our appetites and desires; but by our spirits through the leading of the Holy Spirit. This means that relationship with Jesus means obeying His revealed will for our lives in every detail and in every respect.

Since Christianity is relationship with Jesus, Discipleship then is: First, teaching the new believer how to enter into relationship with Jesus moment by moment through worship and praise and in Spirit and truth, which involves the teachings of Sections 2 and 5. Second, it means explaining from Scripture what we mean by the Lordship of Jesus, which involves the teachings of Section 4. Third, it means teaching the new believer how to walk in the Spirit, which is teaching him how to be Jesus-dependent and how to discern what is truly Jesusí voice which is also taught in Sections 4 and 5. Fourth, it means that as the new believer begins to discover what Jesusí will and plan for his life is, discipleship then becomes seeking Jesus on our part as to what part He would have us to play in helping the new believer fulfill His will in their life and how we can be a continual encouragement to him in his pursuit of it which is the topic of Section 7.

Discipleship Illustration 1

Christianity is relationship with Jesus. It is not a religion. When we say religion we mean self-focus. When we say self-focus we mean trying to save ourselves and sanctify ourselves through the reasoning and efforts of our soul. Christianity is not a self salvation and sanctification program. Christianity is man coming to a place of realizing that not only can he not save himself through his own power, but neither can he sanctify, change himself through his own power. Christianity means that once we repent of our sins that we, first, accept Godís forgiveness of our sins through Jesusí death and shed blood alone, not by any works of ours. Second, it means that we do not trust in our own strength and power to over come the bondages of our soul and flesh, but we look to Jesusí and Jesus alone to overcome our bondages and sin through the strength and power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, to throw a new Christian into a religious program right off the bat or our own special trip is to throw him right back into the bondage we just delivered him from, which was bondage to self for salvation and sanctification.

We need to emphasize to the new believer that through Jesusí death on the cross and our entering into relationship with Him, we have been freed from self efforts to save our selves through the ritualistic teachings of the Law.32 Paul states in the book of Romans 10:4, "For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes." The Law symbolizes self-focus to become holy. The New believer needs to understand that under the new covenant of grace, our focus for righteousness in salvation and in sanctification is now Jesus Himself. Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life." (John 14:6). Jesus is our way to heaven, the truth and root of our problems and the only one who can create spiritual-life that will lead to the solution to our problems. This is because only Jesus knows our constitution, thoughts, and hearts intimately. Therefore the answer to our needs is not a self-striving religious program which only deals with the symptoms of our problems and not the root cause. The solution to our needs is turning to Jesus and seeking Him for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as to the root cause of our problems and then for the root solution. It also involves crying out to Him for His strength and grace to carry out His revealed solution to our needs.

Since it is Jesus who is the answer to all the new believers needs, the Spirit and psychology of our discipleship work needs to be first, teaching the new believer how to approach Jesus to get the answers to those needs. This involves teaching the new believer how to approach Jesus through worship and praise and in Spirit and truth as was outlined in Section 2 Chapter 4. Eventually, by necessity, as the Holy Spirit leads, it also involves explaining to the new believer his need of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, as is outlined in Sections 5 and 6, so that he can be equipped with his spiritual language so that he can pray in Spirit and truth.

Discipleship Illustration 2

Since we are no longer under the Law of the letter, what are we under? The Apostle Paul says that we are now under the Lordship of Jesus Christ (Rom 10:9-10). Therefore, second, discipleship is teaching the new believer what is meant in the Bible by the Lordship of Jesus over our lives individually as well as corporately. As the new believer begins approaching Jesus about his life, problems and needs through worship and praise and in Spirit and truth, Jesus will begin to reveal to him what His will and solution to his life, problems, and needs are. These answers given to the new believer by Jesus through the Holy Spirit are Jesusí personal dictates to the new believer concerning Jesusí will and plan for his life which is Jesusí Lordship over his life.

It is important that we explain to the new believer that if he is to grow in his relationship with the Lord, that he must obey the light Jesus gives him as he seeks Him. This is because Jesus tells us in His word that He will not give us new light about His will for our lives until we first follow and obey the light He has already given us. The Apostle John writes in the book of revelation.

"Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of my God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. If therefore you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you." (Rev 3:2-3).

Second, it is also important that we explain to the new believer that obeying Jesusí Lordship over their lives is a part of salvation. Jesus said in Matthew and Luke, and the writer of Hebrews said,

"And why do you call Me, "Lord, Lord," and do not do what I say?" (Lk 7:46).

"Not every one who says to Me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven." (Matt 7:21).

"For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries." (Heb 10:26-27).

Jesus paid sins penalty on the cross for us not so we could continue in sin, but so we would repent of our sins and then turn to Him for His salvation for us so that we could then receive the purpose and plan that He has for our lives so that we could then walk in it. He saved us so we would live for Him, not so we would continue in sin. The Apostle Paul writes,

"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are of God." (1 Cor 6:19-20)

Third, it is important that we explain to the new Christian that outside of basic morality, that because we are no longer under the Law of the letter, Jesusí Lordship over our lives is going to mean something different for every believer and that because this is true, he must not compare himself with others or others with himself. This is because the commonalty of our Christianity is not what we are in personality, vocation, and life-style, but rather our unity is centered in the same Lord and source of what we are: Jesus! Period! The unity of Christians is the Lord and source of what they are, not the outcome of Jesusí Lordship over our lives individually.

The Apostle Peter evidently struggled over this issue in the Gospel of John after Jesus had just told him what His will for his life was and how he would die. Peter looked over at the Apostle John and said to Jesus, "Lord, and what about this man?" (John 21:21). Jesus answer to Peter was, "If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me?" (John 21:22). Jesus says that what is important is not what our other brothers and sisters in the Lord are doing individually or corporately, but rather what is He doing with us personally? That is what we need to focus on and obey.33

Fourth, it is important that we explain to the new believer that submitting to what we know to be the clear revealed Lordship of Jesus over our lives individually is the beginning of what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit and what it means to walk in the Spirit; that the more he submits to Jesusí known Lordship over his life, the more he is filled with Jesusí Holy Spirit. The Apostle Peter said in the book of Acts about the Holy Spirit, "And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him." (Acts 5:32).

If the new Christian is to stay filled with the Holy Spirit and be able to walk in the Spirit continually, then of necessity he must also know how to deal with sin in His life when it happens and have a realistic view of sin in his life in light of the presence of his old sin nature on this side of heaven. This will involve teaching him the concepts as outlined in Section 4, Chapters 4, 11 and 12 which all deal with how to deal with sin in our lives.

Study Question
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