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Christianity 101: What is a Disciple?

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Equip Forum: What is a disciple?


Equip Forum Introduction

Eagle’s Landing Equip Forum purpose:
Good evening! We’re glad you chose to join us in tonight’s EQUIP forum. Before we dive into what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, I want to explain the purposes and goals of classes like this. These environments are designed to provide “practical training for gospel living.” We’ll say more about that in a moment, but in short, we want these forums to be formative moments in your growth as a Christian. In fact We have three goals for you during this forum:
We want you to come to understand the biblical purpose and process of discipleship.
We want you to grow in your love for Jesus and passion for extending God’s glory through disciple-making.
We want you to take the next step in your growth as a disciple.
Please don’t think of this as an environment where you cannot ask questions; if you have any questions at any point, please ask them.
Three Cultures: Gospel – Discipleship – Sending
Any organization, whether it be a business or a church, has a culture. A culture is “the way things are,” whether or not we are conscious of it or not. It’s how we operate and what we value. We hope to develop three distinct cultures at Eagle’s Landing.
Gospel: The Gospel of Jesus Christ changes everything. It is central to the mission of the church, to the salvation of the lost, and to the sanctification of God’s people. The life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus defines who we are, and how we do ministry. A gospel culture exudes forgiveness, grace, mercy, understanding, but also transformation. This is a culture that seeks and welcomes the lost and extends the gospel to them. This is foundational.
Discipleship: However, we are not here to make converts; we are here to make disciples. There is a difference. Making a disciple involves them receiving baptism and teaching them to observe all that Christ commands. But it is not about mere commands or obedience—it is about love. That is why our definition of a disciple, which you’ll hear more about later, involves more than just what we are called to do.
Sending: If we are a gospel people, who are making disciples, we should naturally have a sending culture. We send out our best disciples to make more disciples of Jesus. This process is like a revolving door. People are saved, equipped and discipled, and then sent.
Block 1: Jesse

The Why of Discipleship: Biblical Purposes of Following Jesus

From Genesis to Revelation

Genesis 1:26-28
Exodus 33:11 – Moses and Joshua
Deut 6:4-9—The Shema
2 Kings 19:16 – Elijah and Elisha
Matt 4:18-20 - Jesus
Matt 28:19–20 - Jesus
2 Tim 2:2 – Paul and Timothy
Revelation 7:9 – The nations
Matthew 28 and Our Commission
Matthew 28:18–20 ESV
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The Authority: Jesus Christ
The Charge: Make disciples
The Method: Baptizing and Teaching
The Promise: I am with you always
GROUP DISCUSSION: What is the purpose of discipleship?
Answer: Passing down the faith; producing more worshippers. The faith was passed down through families, relationships and faith communities (Travis Agnew)
Families (Gen. 18:19; Deut. 4:9; 6:4-9; 32:7; Josh. 4:21-24; 24:15; 1 Ki. 2:2-3; Ps. 78:1-8; 103:17; 127:1-5; Prov. 1:8; 22:6; Is. 38:19; Mal. 1:6),
Moses and Joshua – Ex. 33:11; Num. 27:15-23; Deut. 31:1-8; 34:9
Moses and Caleb – Num. 13; 14:6-9; 34:16-19; Josh. 14:6-15
Naomi and Ruth – Ruth 1:1-22; 3:1-5; 4:13-17
Eli and Samuel – 1 Sam. 3:1-10
Samuel and Saul – 1 Sam. 9-15
Jonathan and David – 1 Sam. 18:1-4; 19:1-7; 20:1-42
David and the Mighty Men – 1 Sam. 22:2; 2 Sam. 23:8-39; 1 Chron. 20:4-8
Elijah and Elisha – 1 Ki. 19:16-21; 2 Ki. 2:1-16; 3:11
Jehoidah and Joash – 2 Ki. 12; 2 Chron. 24:1-25
Faith communities (Ex. 12:17, 26-27; 13:14-15; 20:2; Lev. 23:41; Deut. 29:22-28; Josh. 22:27; Judg. 2:10; Ez. 7:10; Ps. 22:30-31; 71:18; 79:13; 100:5; 102:18; 145:4; Is. 12:4; Lam. 5:19; Dan. 4:3).
GROUP DISCUSSION: What might be some objections, fears or excuses to taking on the responsibility of growing as a disciple or making more disciples?

Objections, Excuses, & Fears

I can’t find the ideal person to disciple me
You’re a work in progress too.
It feels self-centered/prideful to ask someone to follow me.
Christian discipling calls us to follow someone only insofar as he or she follows Christ. It doesn’t call us to follow another’s style or preferences or worldly wisdom, or personal habits.
I’m imperfect or too young.
If you are truly following Christ, all you need to do is share what you do know, not what you don’t know.
Maybe you didn’t think of yourself as having influence, but you do! You are created in God’s own image, and God is so weighty that even the impress of his image bears weight. Your life impacts the people around you, even if you’re at the bottom of the totem pole, or you don’t feel respected by the people around you (Dever, 25)
You can have gospel influence, and amazingly, making a gospel impact in people’s lives doesn’t come only through your strengths, but also through your weakness (Dever, 26)
I don’t have time.
You are devoting time to being discipled by something or someone whether you know it or not. Where are you investing your time? What is most important?
TRANSITION: One of the main reasons people do not begin making disciples is that they do not understand what it means to make disciples. Perhaps no one has told them what it means, or perhaps they themselves have never been discipled. Now, we’re going to spend some time defining what discipleship is.

The What of Discipleship:

Question- what comes to your mind when you think of a disciple?
Video- Something like this might

Defining a Disciple

A Disciple is someone who increasingly delights in the gospel of Jesus Christ and teaches others to do the same.
Increasingly delights: progressively growing in your love for Jesus and the message of the gospel. Delight is a heart word. Love gives birth to obedience. The idea here is one of movement. John 14:15
John 14:15 ESV
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
Psalm 1 is a great picture of a disciple. Where is his delight?
Its the same picture that James paints for us in James 2 when he talks about “faith without works is dead” - If there is no delight…if there is no love…there will be no discipleship or following after jesus
Secondly, there is a picture here that this delighting that is going on is increasing. Disciples don’t grow stagnant. The Christian life is about moving forward toward Christ. There is movement that is tied to the Great commission “GO.” Disciples of Christ are rivers not ponds.
I love what Conner said this morning as he taught our lifegroup for the first time…”Man, when you’ve been in the Word all week you are more attentive to how God is working around you...” In other words, you can follow better…and you delight more and more.
The Gospel of Jesus: 1 Cor 15:1-5
1 Corinthians 15:1–5 ESV
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
Teaches others: Matt 28:18-20
This is the call of the Great Commission...
We believe that a disciple of Christ has matured when they are taking what they have learned about Christ and are investing it in others.
This doesn’t mean I have to be a teacher-type or be eloquent or have a bunch of degrees. It means that I take what I’ve learned and invest it in others in some way.
Beliefs/Affections/Practices Diagram
We want you to see that Discipleship is wholistic—it involves the transformation of what you think, what you believe, and what you do.
Often we start with what we are doing and try to work our way down. But Jesus starts with our heart and the Gospel works its way out of us.

What a Disciple/Discipleship is Not

Discipleship is not rigid; it is organic.
There are a lot of gardening illustrations in Scripture
Discipleship is not focused on knowledge alone; it is focused on life transformation.

The Cost of Discipleship

When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die – Bonhoeffer
Lets look at what jesus said about discipleship:
Matthew 16:24-26
Matthew 16:24–26 ESV
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
What does it look like to “lose your life?” Paul tells us.
Philippians 3:4-11
Philippians 3:4–11 ESV
though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
“…though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”
Losing your life means that your life no longer becomes about you. Your life is no longer lived for your purposes and your aims. The things that you held up before the world and said, “This is what matters to me,” no longer matter. The things you used to gain ground or social capital with others, whether it’s your ethnicity, your degrees, your skills, your habits, or your stuff, you no longer count as worth anything compared to Christ. You understand that your life belongs to God, and he has the freedom to do what he will with it.
In relation to discipleship, losing your life means that you are now investing time you could have used for yourself, into another person for the sake of their growth in Christ.
Prayer: My prayer time now involves the specifics of someone else’s walk with Jesus and not just my own.
Time: My time is one of my most valuable commodities. How am I investing it?
Study: In order to invest in someone else, I need to be invested in learning and growing myself. I don’t have to have all of the answers. But I must be willing to continue to learn and grow in the faith myself.
Love: How are my loves being transformed? Am I loving what God loves?
Humility: Discipleship is initiating a relationship in which you teach, correct, model, and love. It takes great humility. … Discipling in the gospel means that sometimes you lead the way in confessing weakness or sin – Dever, 36
Ultimately, a church will be evaluated based on its disciples; not its programs, not its buildings.

Making Disciples of All Nations

“Discipling really is just a bunch of church members taking responsibility to prepare one another for glory.” – Dever, 43
God’s people are called to make disciples of all nations. This is happening today as brothers and sisters in Christ across the world are making disciples—they are preaching, teaching, training, and evangelizing. The Great Commission is taking place.
We need to understand that particularly in our world today, which has become so divided. The dividing line at death is who and who has not trusted in Jesus Christ for salvation. As we strive to make disciples on this side of heaven, we need to have a heart that pursues the heavenly vision we find in Revelation 7.
Revelation 7:9-10
Revelation 7:9–10 ESV
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
As we think about making disciples and being disciples, realize that God has and wants people from every nation. We should not shrink back from discipling or being discipled by those who look different than us (obviously provided we agree on the essentials). For the Where of discipleship, I’ll turn it over to Jesse.
Block 2:

The Where of Discipleship: Relationships for Growth in Christ (Bobby Harrington and Alex Absalom, Discipleship that Fits).

No circumstance or relationship is outside of God’s sovereignty; therefore, God can and does use every situation and every relationship for the purpose of discipleship. Growing in Christ can happen in all sorts of contexts.
In fact, If you’re missing one of these contexts, there are some aspects of discipleship you’re going to miss out on. If Christ is genuinely the Lord, then he is Lord of your whole life, not just the time you’re here in church.
Church Relationships: The Gathered Church (100s)
Jesus and the Crowds
Where you worship
Outcomes: Inspiration, Momentum, Preaching
Ministry Relationships: Ministry Team (20-70)
Jesus and the 70
Where you serve
Outcomes: Community, Mission, Practice
Personal Relationships: LifeGroups (10-20)
Jesus and the 12
Where you encourage
Outcomes: Closeness, Support, Challenge
Intimate Relationships: Discipleship/Mentoring Relationships, Marriage (2-5)
Jesus and the 3
Where you trust
Intimacy, Openness, Impact
Divine Relationship: Personal walk with God (1)
Jesus and the Father
Where you hope
Outcomes: Identity, Eternity, Truth
Geographic Relationships: Your Neighborhood, Workplace, and World
Jesus for the World
Where you proclaim
Outcome: Mission, Establishing Relationships,
GROUP DISCUSSION: Do you think most people rely on one context for their discipling? Which Context do you think most people are missing? What context are you missing? What problems might arise if you are depending on one context to give you what it is not designed to give you? Illustration: If you show up to Chick-fil-A and demand a Big Mac, and they can’t offer that to, who is at fault?

The Who of Discipleship: Identifying a Disciple

Where to look for a disciple?

Shaddix’s Concentric Circles: Crowd, Community, Core, Commissioned

What to look for in a disciple?

As you look for people to disciple, we need to make sure we’re looking for the right things. We need to remember that the Lord does not look at us and judge us by the “outward” things. We look at people and evaluate them based on their belongings, their looks, and what great things they have accomplished. But God doesn’t evaluate us on those things. God looks on us and sees our HEART.
It’s often the “least of these” that God wants to send us after.
This begs the question: if the Lord were to strip away all of the outward elements of your life, the things you lean on to gain friends or respect, what would he see?
Humble: They know they need God’s grace. They know that they are not perfect, and they must trust Jesus perfectly. They desire to grow.
Engaged: They are involved in the mission
Available: They are willing to give the needed time and commit to it
Ready: They are ready to move forward in their spiritual journey
Teachable: Must be willing to learn
Other considerations
Spiritual state
Believer or Non-Believer
Church member
Varying stages of life
GROUP DISCUSSION: Is there anyone the Lord has brought to your mind to consider discipling? What may prevent you from asking them?

The How of Discipleship: Living the Great Commission Practically

Confess your own sin and weakness
Believe that God can use imperfect people to disciple others (that’s the only kind of people there are!)
Ask God to provide the opportunity
Keep your eyes open.
Watch for people of your gender that ask good questions in LifeGroup or have an interest in growing in Christlikeness
Ask the question
Jesus sought out his first disciples; He was the initiator. We can’t sit around and wait for people to ask to follow us as we follow Christ. Discipleship is intentional.
When you start being discipled or discipling someone else, you need to have clear aims or goals as to what you’re there to do. Biblically, there are essentially two main purposes for discipleship.
Grow in Grace and Knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18)
2 Peter 3:18 ESV
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
Knowledge for the sake of pride puffs up; but knowledge of Christ and the Scriptures for the sake of sanctification, love for God, and love of others is good and right. Knowledge should be transformative.
Grow in Wisdom for Life (Proverbs/Job/Ecclesiastes)
We will never know everything there is to know about life. But one real aim of discipleship is to help other followers of Christ live wisely. We need wisdom because we interact with a world and people (including ourselves) that are all affected by sin. We need to learn how to have hard conversations in humility, how to trust God through hard times, how to use our financial resources to glorify God, etc.

How We Grow in These Ways:

Use Scripture as the Training Tool
2 Tim 3:16–17
2 Timothy 3:16–17 ESV
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Beliefs: Teaching and Reproof
Behavior: Correction and Training in Righteousness
Jesus at the Center

Discipleship Methods of Jesus (Dann Spader)

Reveal God to your disciples
SpeakGod’s words into their lives (Scripture)
Pray regularly for them and with them
When DL Moody was asked if he had heard Charles Spurgeon preach he replied, “Yes, but better still, I heard him pray.”
Protect them through teaching, careful observations, actions, pointing to God’s promises
Send them out & serve with them
Sanctify yourself for their sake
Share the glory with them

What is a Win?

Increasing delight in the Gospel
Increased love for God and his church
Increased passion for mission
Discovery or use of giftedness

Right Next Steps

Join or Start a D-Group
Use the H.E.A.R. Journal Method
Attend or Lead a Table at IronWorks/Illuminate/Tuesday Night/Thrive
Join/Start a LifeGroup
Ask someone (of your gender) who is following Jesus for help to find a disciple or someone to disciple you.
If you’re a student, get engaged. Ask a student leader of your gender for help growing as a disciple of Jesus.
Serve the world locally and globally: Serve the City Day, March 27th
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