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Featured Christian Discipleship

Discussion in 'Christian Theology Forum' started by Wormwood, Jun 6, 2016.

  1. Wormwood

    Wormwood Chaps Staff Member

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    What does it mean to be a disciple? What areas in you walk have helped you to grow as a follower of Jesus? Are there things going on in our lives that make it difficult to be a genuine disciple? How can we be more effective in making maturing disciples? Are you currently mentoring anyone and building disciples? If so, how do you initiate and build those relationships?

    Here are just a few questions (maybe you can think of more) that we can discuss on the topic of discipleship and how we can grow and help others to grow as they follow Christ.
     
  2. FHII

    FHII Well-Known Member

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    Of all the questions this one caught my interest the most.

    I'm just thinking out loud without putting much tought into it, but my first analysis of the question is that it implies the person is already a disciple (follower/student). Second, you asked if life events make it difficult to be genuine real/sincere).

    The wording of this question is delightfully interesting. It is not asking if life events make it difficult to be OR become a disciple (which would be good questions as well).

    My "shoot from the hip" answer to your question is "No". Sort of....

    Does a difficult chemistry question make it difficult to be a chemistry student? If the professor tells the student, "you have the knowledge, ability and tools to solve it", it will make you a more complete and better chem student.

    Life events can be difficult. I've been there to the point that I questioned God about it and asked for mercy. But the Bible says God will not out more on us than we can bear. It says we gloey in tribulation knowing that tribulation worketh experience, patience and hope.

    Yes' they may be difficult. But they make us stronger.
     
  3. junobet

    junobet Active Member

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    [SIZE=medium]You may have already read this, but in case you have not come across it yet, I strongly recommend Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book “The Cost of Discipleship”. [/SIZE]
     
  4. FHII

    FHII Well-Known Member

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    My "to read" list is full for about a year. But i will consider it if you give me a reason
     
  5. junobet

    junobet Active Member

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    I know the feeling. There are just too many interesting books out there and too little time to read them all. And they keep piling up!
    Anyway, since you asked, here’s a little taster from the one I just recommended:

    “The cross is laid on every Christian. (…) When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow him, or it may be a death like Luther’s, who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time—death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at his call. " (The Cost of Discipleship, 99)”
    Well, and Bonhoeffer himself quite literally died. The Nazis executed him in 1945. In prison he wrote a poem that got to become one of the most popular church songs, sung both at baptisms and funerals over here: “By gracious powers so wonderfully sheltered … ”:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_UWB5Zqv_o
     
  6. H. Richard

    H. Richard Well-Known Member

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    many people in the church do not study the scriptures to see what they say. Most read some book that expresses someone's opinion as to what they say.

    On forums people do not discuss what the scriptures actually say but only want to discuss the ones that conform to their ideas and theology and totally ignore the rest.

    I feel that what is needed are teachers that teach what the scriptures actually say in context.

    A child of God is to bring about fruit. That fruit is more children of God by teaching the gospel of grace that Jesus has given us through Paul: That gospel of God's grace where Jesus' shed blood has paid for the sins of the world and people should trust in that message.
     
  7. 7angels

    7angels Active Member

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    it is not that studying the Word is not good. for is good to study the Word. but thee comes a point in everyone walk that we need to stop and start making disciples. if every person made two disciples then within 32 years the whole world will be reached.

    God bless
     
  8. Wormwood

    Wormwood Chaps Staff Member

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    Well, perhaps your views on what the Scriptures "actually say" are merely conforming to your ideas and theology? I mean, we all have our predispositions and assumptions. Its why we need to give each other grace.

    Thank you. In my estimation, discipleship is different from being a student. Discipleship is a way of life. The disciples followed Jesus and endured hardship with him. They had to give up much to follow him and each day they had to make the decision to pack their bag and keep walking after him. Some walked away. When Jesus said things they didnt like or the worries and desires of the world pulled at them, they wandered off. Each day we also have to make a choice to pick up our cross and follow Christ. We have to choose to love him, follow him, allow his word to fill us and surrender our will to his. Many today just want to know stuff about Jesus but live their life on their own terms. In my view, this is not being a genuine disciple. As Jesus said, "Why do you say to me Lord, Lord, but do not do what I say?"

    We all have work to do in this area...but each day is an opportunity to follow with a devoted heart.

    P.S. Yes the Bonhoeffer book is a must read for everyone!
     
  9. H. Richard

    H. Richard Well-Known Member

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    The scriptures tell us that the book of James was written to the Jews only. Do you believe James 1:1?

    Paul says the gospel he teaches was "hidden in God and revealed to him as a mystery"? Do you believe it was the same as revealed to the 12? And if you do then how could it have still been a mystery?

    I believe that the book of James was written to the Jews only Just as it says it is. I believe the grace teaching was revealed only to Paul as a mystery just as the scripture says it was. I believe that Peter's sermon on the day of Pentecost was a message to the Jews only that were convicted in their hearts because they had crucified their Messiah and King.

    Acts 2:22
    22 "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know —
    NKJV
    Acts 2:36
    36 "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."
    NKJV
     
  10. Wormwood

    Wormwood Chaps Staff Member

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    Revelation says a dragon will roam the earth and try to drown a woman with 12 stars over he head by belching out water.
     
  11. FHII

    FHII Well-Known Member

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    I think i know what you are doing... Come on, Wormwood! You think thats really a fair comment?

    You are comparing a chapter which obviously uses symbolism (insomuch as the book itself admits its symbolic by explaning thesymbolism) to one verse which is merely a salutation.

    The book of James was written to Jewish Christians who unfortunately hadn't come to the knowledge of grace. It was written TO.... but i cannot deny it was written FOR all Christians to understand.

    Part of that understanding is that James and Paul were not on the same page. Even today on this board some believe in grace and some believe the law has not passed.
     
  12. junobet

    junobet Active Member

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    Now this may go a bit off topic, but I beg to disagree with some of your statements.

    I’m neither a 1th century Jewish Christian, nor a 1th century gentile Christian living in Ephesus, Galatia or Rome. Nor were those 4th century Christians who finally decided on the Canon that we now have. But when they compiled the NT Canon they still thought these epistles talk not only to the people they were originally addressed to, but also to them and all of Christianity.
    Of course the NT tells us about conflicts between Jewish and Gentile Christians, but it also tells us how these conflicts were resolved. Which by the way sets a good example on how to resolve the conflicts we still have today between various Christian denominations and within our congregations. (And although it took a while, I’m quite glad that by now Lutherans and Catholics have resolved theirs concerning the doctrine of justification.)
    And if we take a discerning look at the writings of Paul and the Epistle of James, we’ll find they are pretty much on the same page: note that they use the term “works” with different meanings. But Paul demands charity and good conduct (no slander, hypocrisy adultery etc.) at least as much as the Epistle of James does. Paul also thinks what counts isn’t just dead faith, but "faith expressed through love” (Gal. 5:6). Both Paul and James summarize the law that Christians must follow with “love thy neighbour” (Gal 5:14; James 2:8). And nowhere does the Epistle of James state that every Christian must be circumcised and observe Jewish dietary restrictions, which is what Paul had beef with when he talks about the futility of “works”.
     
  13. Wormwood

    Wormwood Chaps Staff Member

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    FHII,

    I think it is a fair comment. Yes, Revelation uses symbolism. Other books use metaphor and hyperbole. The point is that it is not as simple as quoting something and saying, "Do you believe this?" The context of first century Christian thought and the rest of the letter/Bible qualify to what "this" refers. Clearly, most Christian scholars throughout church history have understood the salutation in James 1 to be inclusive of believing Gentiles as part of Israel. To suggest that they denied the Bible is a straw man. The rest of the NT makes it very clear that this is how the early church saw itself....no longer Jew or Gentile, race distinctions didnt matter. Phrases that were used exclusively of Israel in the OT were now used of believing Jews and Gentiles in the NT. This is overwhelmingly evident and there is NO indication that James would have rejected this or that his identification of Israel would have been limited to believing Jews only while excluding believing Gentiles. So, we have to understand phrases and concepts in their Biblical context and how the early church identified itself. Consider the following:

    “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12–13, ESV)

    “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.” (Romans 10:12, ESV)

    “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.”” (Romans 9:6–7, ESV)

    “and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” (Colossians 3:10–11, ESV)

    “for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” (Galatians 3:26–29, ESV)

    “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” (Hebrews 12:22–24, ESV)

    “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9–10, ESV) (btw, Peter is also writing to those of the "dispersion." and he is clearly including the Gentiles in his letter)

    I find this to be a very unhealthy and unChristian doctrine. Essentially you are claiming that one of the two authors of Scripture was in error. Are you suggesting you have a better understanding of God's revelation than Paul did? Paul, who, over and over again, claimed that his revelation came straight from God!? James and Paul were on the same page. This is a summary of their teaching on justification:

    James teaches - Faith without works does not justify
    Paul teaches - Faith plus works does not justify
    Both teach - Faith THAT works DOES justify.

    In sum, God is no respecter of persons and he does not have a separate plan based on someones flesh. All poeple will be judged according to their faith and the actions that expressed or denied that faith.

    See also, Acts 10:34–35; Rom 2:6,11; Eph 6:8–9; Col 3:25; 1 Pet 1:17.
     
  14. FHII

    FHII Well-Known Member

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    Ok. Fair enough if that was your point. I hope you see what i was getting at, though.

    I'd like to address a few points you brought up. I am paraphrasing, but you asked if I knew more about God's revelation than Paul did. Well, you and I both have more information than he did. So in a sense yes. We both do and that doesn't exalt us or diminish hom one bit. Paul was absolutely touched by God and given a gift neither of us have. But we have certain things he didn't as well.

    You said something to the effect that my belief that paul and james weren't on the same page was unchristian.

    Yes, i do believe one of them was in error, and i belueve it to be james. I do believe he was a christian and i actually love the book of james.

    The one thing they both agreed on was that works justify a person only in the eyes of men. Compare Jas 2:18 with Rom 4:2.

    High regards to you Wormwood!
     
  15. HammerStone

    HammerStone Well-Known Member Staff Member

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    WW, great questions very relevant for what's going on in the world right now.

    I have a Wesleyan background to go with my Baptist history, so maybe I am predisposed to it, but I admit to admire very much John Wesley's groups. To me the early Methodist class meets, as they were called, tried to model the idea of Jesus with the twelve disciples. The idea wasn't so much that the leader had to be a stand-in for Jesus or it had to have 12 people to be Jesus-sanctioned, but that these people knew each other well enough to have insight on sins and successes, the good and the bad. One of the thing about such an intimate group is that you come to know the other people. You see this with the disciples, sooner or later the desires for power surfaced, etc.

    To me, that's the discipleship model we have. Obviously Jesus is author and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:2), so we should start there. However, almost immediately, we don't have a person available in the flesh who happens to be the son of God, so we probably should look to the one Jesus said would come after him, the Holy Spirit. In one sense, I think discipleship is part of holiness and sanctification. Ultimately, God is discipling us through his Word and through his Spirit.

    Jumping back to the physical aspects, because so many of us operate first in the material realm, I think the class meets are a solid example (not the only way) of what discipleship looks like. It could be 2-3 people getting together or 10-12, but it should be a group who knows each other better than just a Sunday morning handshake. And it's easy to knock the bride, the Church, and say we've failed, but we have failed at doing this. I see this as a reason that homegroups have suddenly become so popular, because when properly implemented and allowed to be organic, they look a lot like Christ's discipling or the Wesley class meetings. People grow closer, share foibles and wins, and most importantly operate in all of this with Scripture at the forefront. However, this also can breed a culture where some try and watch DVDs or talk through studies and so it looks a lot like real fellowship, but never gets rubber to the road for the people actually in the room. (For the record, I am not against study and study material, but it's too easy to make it a crutch.)

    To drill this down, discipleship is often about intimacy. This is why being a disciple means more than just being a student. There is a greater connection than to just a teacher or professor. That connection comes from living it together. From really living it. Immersing ourselves in Scripture, meeting the rebukes, questions, and arguments of others who place a high emphasis on Scripture, and so on.

    We're in between churches right now, seeking a new church family, but one of the things I do is meet with guys early one morning during the week. Since God pretty much divinely intervened to get that started, I feel more "growth" coming out of that group than I have in the last couple years of church. My wife made fun of my today because I ran home at lunch and pulled a Bible and some commentary off the shelf to look something up that one of the guys in the morning challenged me on. She think's I'm just trying to "win" (as she said with a smirk), but precisely because this brother has challenged me on something makes me want to get it right. This is not a guy I see 100% with on Scripture, but I see God as working through him and I know that I better get in the Word of God to get my story right, and who knows, maybe I am wrong and the Holy Spirit will convict me.

    The biggest thing I've learned in all of this is you absolutely cannot force things. So many Christian self-help gurus and programs say that you need to force yourself to do X-Y-Z. It's almost a case of "hey we're going to be in community now..." In fact, I found myself in church trying to replicate what the big boys did and unable to understand why it wasn't working. You cannot create this sort of community with just finding the right Bible study or forcing a meet once every Tuesday evening. Just like the early disciples, we must be compelled.

    In the same way, I can force myself to read a passage of Scripture each night, but it's not a magic charm that will make me a better Christian. I need people challenging me to implement it, even when not comfortable. It's easy to intellectualize when the intellectual side is only a component of faith. We must live it, and this is where discipleship comes into play. How many times did Jesus say things to the disciples that they didn't get? It all didn't make much sense until the fulfillment of the cross and resurrection.
     
  16. junobet

    junobet Active Member

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    Thank you for this post.
    My own background is Lutheran/Reformed/United and I know very little about Wesley. But from the little I know it seems to me he was a very inspired man.

    You’re so right: having fellowship and living one’s faith amongst brothers and sisters is really important!

    “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
    (Matthew 18:20)

    And for a fellowship to work it takes both Marys and Marthas. I dare say that Mary would have learned very little in her studies had she looked down on her sister after the conversation between Martha and Jesus. This may be the Lutheran in me speaking, but while sermon and Bible-study are certainly more important than the apple-pie that’s being served to go with it, it’s also much harder to study on an empty stomach. ;-)
    And even if we ourselves are utterly convinced of our respective Bible-interpretations and resulting doctrines and theologies and eschatologies … , it does indeed good to remember that we are probably not much cleverer than the first disciples Jesus chose: “ For now we see through a glass, darkly …” (1Cor.13:12) And most importantly: it does good to remember that while the 12 kept frustrating Christ with their blindness, their misunderstandings and petty little rivalries, He still loved them enough to die for them. So we also must love one another, no matter what.
     
  17. HammerStone

    HammerStone Well-Known Member Staff Member

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    Yes, Matthew 18:20 comes to mind. I've heard a lot of people try to say this verse now only speaks to church disciplines episodes, but I understand that verse to mean that when sincere believers get together and try and do things God's way, the Holy Spirit will be there to guide. The Methodists have developed this idea of experience, and then the Holiness denominations ran with it some more. I think we can overestimate and over-employ experience to our detriment, but I also hold Jesus to his word that the Holy Spirit would do greater things (John 14:12) and that it was better for us that the Holy Spirit come (John 16:7).

    One of the things I love about Protestantism is that we truly assume that we all read the Bible sacramentally, meaning that God is with us and working in us when we read his Holy Scripture. Most Protestants would never use this terminology, but we really have a strong view of the Holy Spirit in this one arena because we implicitly believe He is empowering us to understand the Word. Many of your Reformed and Lutheran fore-bearers really understood this.

    As for Lutheran and Reformed studies, I am more read in the Reformed bracket, but Lutheranism intrigues me and I've already learned some things from it. Certain traditions highlight certain aspects of such a rich and deep faith that I think we should be able to prosper by learning some lessons of other denominations, even if we do not see quite eye to eye on certain issues. One of the things that many Reformed and Lutherans will still do is pull out a Bible and read and insist arguments be made from there. That's a healthier view than many Methodist churches and even Baptist churches these days.

    As for your closing paragraph...it's far better than anything I could have said. There is at least one place in the Bible where it says love your brethren (brothers and sisters) especially, meaning those in the faith. If you can love them, then I think loving those not of the faith becomes a little easier. We are in an atomizing society, stuck in a paradox of constant communication links yet seemingly unable to communicate with who and what is most important. To a large degree, many of our churches have adopted some of the world's choices and therefore its issues. To be completely candid, so did I. I've been there, done that, and it can lead to dark times. The Bible was serious about the warning of private interpretations, and so I think discipleship is a very crucial part of how God said it up for us to be sanctified. Every knee could easily have been made to bow at the first advent, or so many other strong-arm policies that God could have enforced as truly omnipotent and omniscient, yet he chose the church. He chose outposts in a foreign land insteading of smashing its ruler at the start and making it a stronghold. I do think that comes out of incomprehensible love and righteousness, and I do think that means we should try to get his way right understanding it's in sola gratia.
     
  18. Wormwood

    Wormwood Chaps Staff Member

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    Hey HS,

    Yes, I appreciate what you have written on this. I think you are right on target. Discipleship must first come from the individual. People are quick to blame the church and their programming, but someone who really loves Jesus and wants to follow him daily will find people and ways to help them grow in their commitment to Christ and service to others. Of course, the leadership of the church does bear some responsibility if they are content to merely educate for a few hours a week rather than find ways to promote healthy discipleship. Yet, I too appreciate Protestant and early Methodist efforts to place much of that responsibility on the commitment and faith of the individual.

    In any event, the question I wrestle with is "How do I facilitate discipleship today?" In an age where people work 50 hours a week and have 20 hours of weekly sporting activities with the kids, how does one emphasize the need for small group fellowship and accountability outside the Sunday morning worship gathering? Especially in an age where individual autonomy is exalted as the chief value and "religion" has become viewed to be a private, individualized enterprise. The need for discipleship is perhaps greater than ever. Yet there is so much family activity and entertainment pulling at our attention, the command to "make disciples" is perhaps more difficult than ever.
     
  19. H. Richard

    H. Richard Well-Known Member

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    And just how do people "follow Jesus"?

    If it is tying to keep the law then they are not following Jesus because sinful flesh can not keep the law. Jesus was placed on a cross and murdered. However when He was on that cross He shed His blood that paid for all the sins of the world. It is His work on the cross that saves a person. No one on earth can do what Jesus did. This message is not what many teach. Most teach a Social/Moral gospel of good works that will not save anyone.

    No one on earth can follow what Jesus did for mankind. For a person to think they can is an abomination to God. It belittles what Jesus did on the cross. Salvation is the work of God, not man.

    As for James, what he wrote to the Jews is in perfect agreement with the Jewish Law of Moses. But we are not under the Law of Moses. The children of God are under God's grace, not the law of Moses. That is the message Jesus gave to Paul for us and it is this message that true Christians are to teach.

    The Law only kills, but grace is much better that the Law.
     
  20. Wormwood

    Wormwood Chaps Staff Member

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    I dont think anyone here was saying or implying that following Jesus was the equivalent of following the Law of Moses. However, Jesus did preach that all who followed him should repent. One cannot continue living in sin and pretend they are a disciple of Jesus. Grace provides a means for transformation by the Spirit, not indulging the desires of the flesh. If we follow Jesus we put to death the misdeeds of the body to walk in accordance with the Spirit.

    Also, I disagree that James wrote that people should follow the Law of Moses....

    “Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” (James 1:21, ESV)

    “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.” (James 2:1, ESV)

    So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:12–13, ESV)

    “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16, ESV)

    James message is full of grace and faith in Jesus Christ as a means by which someone is saved. James is simply dealing with the false teaching that one can claim grace and live wickedly. Paul also deals with similar issues...

    “And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.” (Romans 3:8, ESV)

    “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19–21, ESV)

    Every letter has a context and is dealing with people who have particular issues. Paul often wrote against Judiazers who were trying to pervert the Gospel by making people serve the Law as a means of salvation and relationship with God. James was not dealing with that issue. He was dealing with believers who were trying to pervert our holy calling in the name of faith. Again, Paul and James do not contradict one another. They are both dealing with different audiences who had different sin/faith issues.
     
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