In an earlier blog, discipleship was defined. One who learns and then does.
An oft overlooked element:
there is no final graduation from Christian discipleship.
The followers of Christ set themselves to continually learn and then increase their capability to do for him.
What true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ would not want to know more about Him?
If you are a fan of the mystery literature, you may be familiar with Sherlock Holmes oft-repeated statement, “Elementary, my dear Watson.” What Holmes came up with was usually not elementary, but it served to solve a crime.
Ask the question: what do I need to be a strong disciple for the Lord Jesus Christ? The answer is, “Elementary my dear Watson.” Now stay with me.
Elementary has at its base, the word element. In physical science matter is made up of three elements:
There are also basic elements for learning, applying, and then learning more about Christ. These elements are the building blocks of health and growth.
My first school was an elementary school. The teachers there taught me the basic elements of math, reading, science, etc. Those subjects are still part of everyday life.
Elements of Discipleship
Let’s consider the basic elements of being one who learns, applies, and then learns more (or disciple) for Christ. As was the case in elementary school, these basic building blocks remain forever. And yet again, ad nauseum, don’t forget what a disciple is. A learner, who acts on what has been learned, and then continues to learn more about Christ.
Pop Quiz: Based on accurately understanding what it means to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus, (one who learns, applies, and continues to intentionally learn more about Him) are you actually a disciple of Christ?
Element #1 - The Bible
The primary place to learn about the Lord Jesus Christ is the Bible. As we read, and more important learn the basic processes of studying the Bible we learn about Christ and Christian living. Spending time in the Bible is a basic element of being a person who learns, and takes action.
There are some principles of the Bible that a disciple should know. Below is a small sampling.
- The Old Testament foreshadows Christ, while the New Testament unveils Christ.
- There is multiple genre of writing in the Bible. Each genre has a unique purpose. You will later learn the different genre, why each is important, and how to rightly divide the word of God regarding genre.
- Some books of the Bible are easier to read and understand than others.
Being a disciple who benefits from the Bible means being involved with the Bible beyond hearing someone speak from behind a podium one or two times each week. As a disciple of Christ, your relationship with the Bible must be personal. Experiencing the word of God corporately is inadequate.
The Bible is a basic element of being a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ was specific:
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. – John 15:7
Pop Test: Have you read the Bible in its entirety? Not necessarily straight from Genesis to Revelation but have you read all the books of the Bible?
If not, this is a good place to start – but read slow for the sake of comprehension.
Element #2 - Personal Devotion
Personal Devotion is connecting with God through prayer, the Bible, and perhaps other resources such as prayer journals or printed devotional material. Prayer journals and printed devotions are a benefit because they help maintain focus.
My earliest prayer journals were spiral bound notebooks. Personal Devotion is vital for discipleship because it establishes the discipline of having daily interaction with God. The phrase “a conversation with God” is a good way to define prayer.
My first book in the Keep It Simple Saints series is on Personal Devotion. Thousands of people have benefitted from the three models to consider using. Getting my book is less important than for you to establish the discipleship pattern of personal devotion. (Though my book is really good!)
Element #3 - Active Participation in a Local Church
The church has received much criticism. Some is justified. Nonetheless, the church is God’s resource to impact the world. The word church means “body of called out believers.” In the Bible there are several word-pictures of the church: a family, building, and body.
The church is an intertwined and inter-dependent community. I need you. You need me.
Each disciple brings their unique abilities into the church. Through the corporate employment of those gifts, talents, and abilities the church is made stronger to impact the world.
Christianity is never portrayed as being lived in isolation. A disciple of Christ - remember one who learns, applies, and learns more will be a participant in a local church.
You will discover that every church has imperfect people. Some will be hypocrites; all will struggle in some way, including the leader. Rather than being a critic, as a disciple, you join the struggle to learn, apply and serve the Lord Jesus Christ.
Element #4 - Spiritual Leadership
God has gifted to His church those who build up the saved. (The King James Version word is edify) On a local basis that person is often designated as pastor, or bishop.
A pastor does not know all of life’s answers, nor is any pastor perfect. Be thankful for God’s grace for yourself and for your spiritual leader. Make your spiritual leader someone you pray for during your personal devotion.
A spiritual leader has a place of authority in a disciple’s life. But the Bible is clear; that authority has boundaries. Christian leadership is not cultic, nor that of a demagogue, or dictator.
Your life as a disciple of the Lord will be enhanced by having a strong, consistent spiritual influencer in your life.
Science, math, and reading are essential to be well educated. As a disciple who learns, applies, and then learns more the following will be essential:
- An ongoing relationship with your Bible
- Personal Devotion
- A local church in which to be involved
- Spiritual leadership
Looking at those four things, are there are areas where you need to do some remedial work? If so, begin with reading the Bible. A good place to start will be the history of the church in the Bible. It is called the Acts of the Apostles. After reading Acts of the Apostles, why not read the gospel of John.
And stay with me a bit and we will look at how to sustain growth as a disciple.
Interested in knowing more about Personal Devotion (Keep It Simple Saints)?