Christian life is a great adventure that is filled with excitement and thrills. Yet, it is also marked with pain and suffering. That’s why God is telling us to live this life not alone, but together with one another. Hebrews 10: 23-25 says,
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another?and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
We need encouragement and support from one another to press on. One of the best ways to do this is through one-to-one discipleship. The purpose of this is to have the older and more mature believers invest their lives in the younger, less mature believers in order to help them grow more like Christ.
In light of this, let me make some clarifications on one-to-one discipleship. First of all, I strongly recommend that you do this within your house church. Unless you are the only man or woman in your house church, please find a person of the same gender in your house church to disciple you. One of the most important signs of a mature Christian is humility. When you say that there is no one in your house church who can disciple and help you grow, you are being prideful.
Second, please understand that you cannot disciple an unbeliever because he is not a disciple of Christ. Discipleship is helping someone become more like Christ. How can you help an unbeliever become more like Christ when he hasn’t even received Christ into his life as his Lord and Savior? We can and we should certainly do an evangelistic Bible study with an unbeliever who is searching for the truth. But please don’t make the mistake of calling it discipleship because he hasn’t become a disciple or follower of Christ yet. Call it a seeker Bible study or an evangelistic Bible study. For this, you can use “Handbook for Successful Living” which you can obtain from the church office or our Maturity Team for $2 per copy.
This brings me to the third point. Please do not to use “Beginning the Journey” or “The Arrival Kit” with an unbeliever. These one-to-one discipleship Bible study materials are not written for unbelievers, but for believers. Therefore, the content will not make sense to or be applicable for unbelievers. Please use them only when you are discipling a believer in your house church.
Fourth, please do not move forward to a new topic in your one-to-one discipleship Bible study unless your disciple is practicing what you have taught him. Jesus said very clearly that the purpose of teaching is not to help someone accumulate the head knowledge, but instead to encourage and challenge him to obey God’s word.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28: 19-20)
Transferring biblical knowledge without transforming life is bad discipleship because it is knowledge without action and that is detestable to God.
“They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.” (Titus 1: 16)
Once the bad discipleship is done to someone it gets extremely difficult to transform his life and help him to be right with God. It is similar to attempting to straighten a crooked tree that has already become big. Please remember that discipling nobody is better than discipling somebody poorly.
Then, what are the evidence or signs of good discipleship? When discipleship is done right, we should be able to see the respect for and submission to God’s word in the life of our disciple. Moreover, there needs to be an increase in their prayer life, an increase in their generous and sacrificial giving for God’s work, and the desire to reach the lost for Christ. However, the most basic and essential sign of discipleship is the love and devotion for his local church and its ministry. The Scripture tells us that church is the body of Christ and we are the parts of that body. It also says that church is the bride of Christ, God’s Son. Therefore, how can we call ourselves the disciples of Jesus and not be committed and devoted to His church? This is an oxymoron!
That’s why we emphasize church membership and building up the church by getting involved in various ministries here at New Life. If you say that you are a Christ follower, but you are not committed to any church and fulfilling your responsibilities as a member, then you have received a bad discipleship. Those of you who are doing evangelistic Bible studies with seekers, make sure that you stress the significance of church membership without which they can’t grow spiritually once they accept Christ as their Lord and Savior. And those of you who are doing discipleship with those who say they are Christians, if they are not committing themselves to church membership, stop your discipleship until they become members of New Life or a Bible believing local church, and submit themselves to the authority of God’s church. To continue on with the discipleship when your disciple is not willing to commit to church membership is to help him become displeasing to God.
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