Month: July 2017

Who Are We? [The Re-branding of Discipleship] D

Who Are We? [The Re-branding of Discipleship] D

Discipleship is supernatural.

I once saw a little sticker that still makes me laugh when I think of it.

“The two great facts of life: 1) There is a God. 2) You are not Him.”

There is a difference between man and God, a vast contrast between the methods of human ingenuity and the work of the Holy Spirit. Coaching a softball team is human and natural. Discipling Christians is miraculous and spiritual.

The task of discipleship requires a miracle.

The Apostle Paul contrasts the natural flesh[a]Flesh is a synonym for carnal nature, sinful nature, old nature, natural man. The word σάρξ (sarx) can mean meat, or the physical body, or the entire physical existence of a person, or the sinful … Continue reading, with the supernatural Holy Spirit. He warns us against following our own natural desires and wisdom. A disciple must be spiritual. Spiritual means Spirit-controlled. A disciple must stop letting his natural self control him. This is accomplished by dying to the old sinful nature, the flesh, and experiencing life in the Spirit.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 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. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.[b]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ga 5:16–26). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Walk by the Spirit…

Human nature solves problems by natural means. The natural man pursues satisfaction in sex, impurity, and sensuality. It is natural to react to relationship frustrations with enmity, strife, jealousy, angry outbursts. It is natural to respond to social situations with selfishness, competition, envy, and dissension into team polarity.

The Holy Spirit solves problems by supernatural means. The Spirit-filled, Spirit-controlled man pursues love, experiences joy, spreads peace, responds patiently, acts with goodness and kindness and gentleness, demonstrates faithful integrity, and has mastery over his bodily appetites and selfish desires. This requires a miraculous transformation of character.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love…

Disciples are led by the Spirit. This means that they are dead to the works of the flesh. They are not selfish. Disciples are filled with the Spirit and grow the fruit of the Spirit, love.

John 15 commands us to be fruitful.

The task of discipleship is to make extraordinary, sanctified, willing, faithful Christians out of typical selfish, ungodly, stubborn human beings. That is impossible. I perceive no natural way for it to succeed. It would take a miracle.

God commissioned His Church to discipleship. God is needed for the process of disciple-making. Natural solutions need to fail. Supernatural solutions must be presented. You may mistakenly think that a person with natural leadership traits and experience would be perfect to head up your discipleship program. If you find it natural to disciple others, you’re doing it wrong. Don’t strategize the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit out of your discipleship program or mentoring groups or curricula. Discipleship isn’t a business leadership program or a team-building exercise. You are unqualified to disciple anyone. You need God to qualify and equip you. Don’t rely on your own natural-born talents, astonishing intellect, magnetic personality, and stunning good looks. Deliberately devote yourself to the Holy Bible and the Holy Spirit with the view of producing supernaturally Spirit-controlled disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh…

The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is the distinctive trait of disciples, those redeemed through the death and resurrection of Jesus. In the life of a disciple, someone who identifies with the crucifixion of Jesus, the evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit is transformation of character, a purified heart, a permanent placement of Jesus upon His rightful throne of the disciple’s heart.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit…

God provided a supernatural Paraclete so that His Church could miraculously accomplish an impossible mission: the discipleship of the nations. The Great Commission is tied to the Promise of the Father. Jesus was leaving his role as a disciple-making companion to His disciples so that God would be an indwelling disciple-making Companion to every disciple. The Holy Spirit brings the supernatural power needed for discipleship. Sadly, some churches simply don’t have room for the Holy Spirit. Maybe we can fit Him in for a 10-minute window on the second Sunday of August next year.

If you want to be a disciple, you need the Holy Spirit. If you want to make disciples, you need the Holy Spirit. Ask for the Holy Spirit. Pray in the Spirit. Live in the Spirit. Be controlled and led by the Holy Spirit.

And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.
…But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”[c]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ac 1:4–8). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

A disciple is an individual miraculously transformed into Christ’s likeness. You cannot make disciples until you are a disciple. You cannot lead others into the supernatural transformation of character until you have been transformed into Christ’s likeness. If you are not controlled by the Holy Spirit, you will never make a disciple that is controlled by the Holy Spirit. It is absurd for you to expect to pass along any quality that you do not possess.

References

References
a Flesh is a synonym for carnal nature, sinful nature, old nature, natural man. The word σάρξ (sarx) can mean meat, or the physical body, or the entire physical existence of a person, or the sinful Adamic nature that accompanies our human flesh. Context must tell you which definition to consider.
b The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ga 5:16–26). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
c The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ac 1:4–8). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Who Are We? [The Re-branding of Discipleship] C

Who Are We? [The Re-branding of Discipleship] C

KOINONIA

The biblical words for fellowship and communion are identical and indicate a “commonness” or “community.” Every believer is a participant in a larger, much larger, organism. There are characteristics and functions that all believers share in common. It is interesting that the New Testament shows fellowship happening in conjunction with sharing a meal. Never underestimate the value of sitting down together to share bread and share your life. This seems to work in smaller church groups, but large groups seem to succeed at providing great banquets and buffet lines, but if they only provide surface relationships and fail at providing honest deep fellowship between people. Fund-raising dinners should be outlawed. Paul commented strongly about dinners that do more harm than good.

How can we get believers to move from casual how-are-you-today relationships in church to genuine fellowship with commitment and trust? It seems that it is easier for some of us to connect with non-believers.

The Andy Griffith show has been a favorite television show for as long as I can remember. To receive it when I was a child, we had to go outside and turn the antenna. Now, my Amazon Prime account allows me to watch it on any electronic device. Over the years, I have observed at least four levels of relationships that were demonstrated, four gradual steps to deeper relationships as demonstrated by Andy’s house in Mayberry. Some folks just stood on the sidewalk and talked in front of the house. I’m not sure these characters all had names, as they may have been extras. Some closer friends were invited into the living room and dining room for pie. There were some great parties there with Howard and Goober. More intimate friends were invited to stay late and sit on the front porch for more personal conversation, guitar playing, and maybe even shared a smoke with Andy which probably wasn’t as shocking to viewers from North Carolina. But only a very few people got to fellowship in Aunt Bea’s kitchen for a midnight snack of home-made pickles. All that to say that for discipleship to happen we need to invite people into a deeper level of our lives, probably that front porch level, but without the tobacco smoke. Also to say that we cannot disciple 100% of everyone at the same time.

There is something fundamentally self-contradictory about all-church discipleship programs in which dozens or hundreds of people gather at one time and engage in a discipleship program. The Bible calls Jesus’ disciples “Dodeka” [a]δώδεκαdōdeka or The Twelve, so I recommend we keep it under that. Jesus also appears to indicate that a group of two or three is appropriate. Me and you is two. One more is three.

Christian fellowhip is an ancient practice.

There is nothing new in this document, and I am unqualified to write it.

God has provided a supernatural library from which we can glean a successful discipleship program based upon His wisdom and purpose. My document is a personal gleaning from God’s official documents. My document contains nothing new, just the same old Christian texts that we have studied and read over and over since we were kids in Sunday School. In fact, if you find a new discipleship, not based upon God’s amazing ancient apostolic texts, just ignore it, no matter how sensational it is. A business guy will tell you how to disciple by applying business principles that get good results. Ignore him. Ignore both the slick marketing and the dramatic results. If you are familiar with the teachings of the New Testament, you know this stuff. You don’t need a new idea. You simply need to implement the original idea. It is much simpler and less expensive.

Discipleship should not be an expensive novelty. It should be the normal everyday function of every Believer in every church.

I say that I have nothing new to say about discipleship because there have been a multitude of pastors that have preached and practiced biblical discipleship since the days of the Apostles. I am saddened to see modern authors and experts telling Christians that they have been doing it wrong all along. I say to my co-laborers in the Gospel, those of you that have been guiding believers to become stronger, healthier followers of Jesus, that you have been doing it right all along. I hope I can affirm your efforts in some way. Hold fast to what is good.

I have based my writing upon my personal examination of the instructions in the Christian Scriptures. The study and commentary is tainted by my own ministry experience.

Furthermore, I am unqualified to write anything. I have not attained a high degree in education. I do not boast of proven techniques that have produced sensational results. I have never pastored a mega-church or launched a massive small group program. I am not a published author. I am merely a Christian minister who reads my Bible. With God’s help, I believe we can follow His instructions. This text is my free advice and worth every cent.

References

References
a δώδεκαdōdeka
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