What does it mean to be a disciple of Christ’s?  Why should we build up believers spiritually?  How does a Christian biblically and effectively build up believers spiritually?  And what should be covered when building up believers spiritually?

Feet of a disciple walking in sandals on dusty road

THESIS: As Christians, we are commanded by God to build up other believers.

Due to numerous and differing opinions today in Christendom regarding the topic of discipleship, we will examine the Bible to determine what God says about discipleship.  We will find out that He commands all Christians to build up believers.  We will also study the life of Jesus Christ to discover His method (God’s) of how to build up believers.

I.     WHAT IS A DISCIPLE?

A.  The Greek noun, “mathētēs” (261 times exclusively in the Gospels and Acts), means a learner, pupil, or one who follows the teaching of someone else.  Besides Jesus (Matt. 9:10), the following people also had “mathētēs”:

1.  John the Baptist had disciples – Matt. 9:14; 11:2; Mk. 2:18.

2.  The Pharisees had disciples – Matt. 22:16; Mk. 2:18.

3.  Moses – Jn. 9:28.

However, Luke’s usage of “mathētēs” in the book of the Acts means believers or Christians – Lk. 6:1-2, 7; 9:10; 11:29; 13:52; 14:22, 28; 18:23; 19:9.

B.  The Greek noun, “mathētria” (only in Acts 9:36), refers to a female disciple.

C.  The Greek noun, “summathētēs” (only in Jn. 11:16), refers to fellow disciples.

D.  The Greek verb, “mathēteuō” (only 4 times: Matt. 13:52; 27:57; 28:19; and Acts 14:21) means to become a disciple or to make a disciple.

E.  According to Dr. Kenneth Wuest (former professor of Greek at Moody Bible Institute), “We must be careful to note that the Greek word for ‘disciple’ [mathētēs] does not carry with it the idea that that person who is named a disciple is necessarily a saved person.  The word does not contain any implications of salvation.  A person may learn something from someone else and yet not put that knowledge into practice or make it a part of his life.  See John 6:66 in its context for an example of an unsaved disciple, and Matthew 10:1 for an illustration of saved (the eleven) and unsaved (Judas) disciples.  The word merely refers to one who puts himself under the teaching of someone else and learns from him…In the case of the word ‘disciple’ the context must rule as to whether the particular disciple mentioned, is saved or unsaved, not the word itself” – Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, Volume III, section 4, page 25.

F.  According to W.E. Vine, the usage “mathētēs” in reference to Jesus’ disciples had many variations.  In a wide sense, the Jews who became His adherents were His disciples – Jn. 6:66; some were secret disciples – Jn. 19:38.  It also has special reference to His twelve Apostles – Matt. 10:1; Lk. 22:11.  It also refers to those who abide in His word [love one another and bear much fruit] – Jn. 8:31; 13:35; 15:8.  In the Acts, “mathētēs” refers to those who believed on Him and confessed Him – Acts 6:1-2, 7; 14:20, 22, 28; 15:10; 19:1.

A disciple was not only a pupil, but an adherent; hence they are spoken of as imitators of their teacher – Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words.

G.  “Mathētēs” summary: As we see, “disciple” can mean many different things.  In its most common Biblical usage, it means a learner, pupil, or follower of someone without necessarily implying salvation (e.g., Sunday school student).  In the book of Acts, “mathētēs” is usually equated with the words “believer” or “Christian” implying salvation to those identified as “disciples”.

In a wide sense, a “mathētēs” of Jesus could refer to the many followers He had early in His ministry, and it could also refer to His select team of 12 “mathētēs”.  In addition to those definitions, “mathētēs” can refer to anyone who qualifies to be a disciple of Jesus Christ by meeting certain criteria mentioned in section II (e.g., you?).  As such, the Biblical context is the best determining factor in defining the word “mathētēs.”

H.  Other Greek words with close association to discipleship:

1.  The verb, “akoloutheō,” means to follow.  It implies being an “akolouthōs,” a follower or companion – Vine’s

“Following does not in every instance involve being a disciple.  Where the Synoptics speak in the indicative of crowds of people who followed Jesus (Matt. 4:25; 8:1; 21:9; Mk. 10:32), the word is used in a neutral sense.  No particular calling or conviction can be inferred from this.”

“The word has special significance where it refers to individuals.  On Jesus’ lips it often appears as an imperative, as when He called the disciples (Matt. 8:22; 9:9; 19:21; Jn. 1:43; 21:19).  The response of those called is described as following (Lk. 5:11).  Akoloutheō always points to the beginning of discipleship…” The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (TNIDNTT), page 482.

2.   The verb “mimeomai” means to imitate or follow.  The noun form, “mimētēs,” refers to an imitator or follower and is always used in a good sense in the New Testament.  In 1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1; Eph. 5:1; and Heb. 6:12, it is used in exhortations, accompanied by the verb “ginomai,” to be, become – Vine’s.

When Paul reminds the Corinthians (1 Cor. 4:17) of his ways and teachings, his demand for imitation means that they are to direct their manner of living in accordance with the instructions and conduct of the apostle.  “Paul never intends to bind the demand for imitation to his own person.  It is always to the One whom he himself follows” – TNIDNTT, page 491.

3.   The adverb, “opisō,” means behind, back, or after.  It is preceded by “deute” (come!) in Jesus’ invitations/commands to discipleship with Peter and Andrew (Matt. 4:19; Mk. 1:17) and translated, “follow” or “come after.”

I.    Remember, an equipped laborer is an established disciple who has answered the call of God to labor by undergoing supervised training by an experienced leader.  A laborer not only possesses ministry skills, but also has a deep commitment to help reach the world for Christ – Bill Hull in Jesus Christ Disciplemaker, page 174.

II.     WHAT IS A DISCIPLE OF CHRIST?

Although the word for disciple, “mathētēs,” commonly implies a learner or pupil, Jesus expanded this definition by adding certain conditions (qualifications) on the type of person who would be His disciple.  A disciple of Christ is:

A.  One who abides in Christ’s words – Jn. 8:31. “Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.’”  “Abide” (‘menō’) means to lodge, to maintain unbroken fellowship and communion with one another, to dwell.  It refers to a learner who has made a commitment (pledge) of life to obeying Jesus Christ and His words.  In other words, obedience to Jesus’ words (commands) is the same as abiding.

B.   One who follows Christ at any cost.  Even the probable cost of:

1.   PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS (family, friends) – Lk. 9:61-62; 14:26.  “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”  One who loves Christ supremely to the point of precedence over family and even oneself.  “Literal hating of one’s family would have been a violation of the Law… The stress here is on the priority of love (cf. Matt. 10:37).  One’s loyalty to Jesus must come before his loyalty to his family or even to life itself.  Indeed, those who did follow Jesus against their families’ desires were probably thought of as hating their families” – The Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament, page 243.

2.   PERSONAL GOALS AND DESIRES (career, job) – Lk. 9:59-60; 14:27. “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”

3.   PERSONAL POSSESSIONS (material comforts) – Lk. 9:57-58; 14:33. “So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.”  “This does not mean that he [the would-be disciple] must sell all his possessions or give away all his money or desert his dear ones and become a hermit or beggar or wanderer, but it means that he must give Christ full control over his whole life with everything that he is and all that he possesses, and that under His [Jesus’] guidance and in His service he should deal with his possessions in the manner that is best.  In some cases, it has meant, or will mean, that a man will have to take leave of his worldly possessions and go into distant lands to work for Christ… The important thing is that whosoever desires to follow Him must be inwardly free from worldly-mindedness, covetousness and selfishness, and be wholly devoted to Him” – The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Gospel of Luke, page 399.

4.   IMPERFECT TRAINERS – Rom. 3:23.  This is an added cost since Jesus is no longer here on earth.  As such, if we seek to be trained, this process will not be perfect.  Trainers are not perfect; they are not infallible.  They are Christians who love Christ supremely and who seek to help less mature Christians grow spiritually by helping them to avoid common time-consuming (and sometimes painful) mistakes.

C.   One who does the will of God and is in a family relationship with Christ – Matt. 12:46-50.

D.  One who loves other Christians unconditionally – Jn. 13:34-35. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this, all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

E.   One who bears much fruit – Jn. 15:8.  This implies both the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23; 2 Pet. 1:2-11) and the fruit of evangelism (converts).

F.   One who is taught, trained, and developed by following in close association with the Trainer – Mk. 3:14. “And He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him, and that He might send them out to preach.”

III.     WHAT IS CHRIST-STYLED DISCIPLESHIP?

As mentioned before, discipleship is the process of helping less mature believers grow spiritually by helping them to avoid common time-consuming (and sometimes painful) mistakes.  The trainer has probably been around longer and has learned from the mistakes he’s made, or else, he has learned from the mistakes of someone else.

Therefore, discipleship is an accelerated process of Christian maturity.  In theory, discipleship is accelerated spiritual growth because the trainee will not make as many mistakes as he would without a trainer (although there are exceptions).  This process occurs whenever a less-mature Christian (the disciple, follower, “mathētēs”) voluntarily makes himself accountable and humbly submits to a more-mature Christian (the discipler or trainer) who seeks to impart three things:

A.  Bible knowledge (theory and practical);

B.  Ministry skills (necessary for evangelism and building up believers);

C.  Christ-like character qualities/traits to the disciple.

As we can see, the trainer wants the trainee TO KNOW certain things, to possess numerous skills in order TO DO certain tasks, and TO BE of a certain character quality essential to Christian ministry.

This process requires time – quantity and quality – in close association with one another so that they can get to know each other very well – their strengths, weaknesses, etc.  During this time, the discipler seeks to impart the three things mentioned above.

One way in which the trainer seeks to impart items is by modeling.  The trainer seeks to model (demonstrate) the character and conduct of Jesus Christ whereby the trainee can imitate, “mimeomai,” this conduct based on the principle in Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

The goals of this team-process are Christian maturity, to become conformed to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29) in character (thoughts, words, actions) and in mission (priorities and activities).  As we can see, this process cannot be done quickly or easily.  It takes time and effort.  Therefore, discipleship is not a program; it is not a class; it is not a series of workbooks.  Christ-styled discipleship is a life-long process.  And as we can see from section II, Christ-styled discipleship will never be popular.

IV.     WHY SHOULD WE BUILD UP BELIEVERS SPIRITUALLY?

Even though building believers is hard, time-consuming, and costly, the Bible and common sense make building others essential for all Christians.  Let’s see why we should build up believers:

A.  Because it is a command for all believers.

1.  So then let us pursue the …building up of one another – Rom. 14:19.

2.  Therefore…build up one another – 1 Thes. 5:11.

 B.   Because it is the reason why Jesus gave gifted men to the church, and it’s His will.

“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; till we all attain…to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to Christ.” – Eph. 4:11-13.“…admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ.  And for this purpose also I labor…” – Col. 1:28-29.

“My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you” – Gal. 4:9.

“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son…” – Rom. 8:29.

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification…” – 1 Thes. 4:3.

C.   Because discipleship was Jesus’ method for achieving one of His goals here on earth.

1.   One of Jesus’ main goals was to seek and save the lost.

a.   (Lk. 19:10) “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

b.  (Jn. 12:47) “…for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.”

c.   (Lk. 4:43) “…I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.”

2.   Discipleship was Jesus’ primary method to seek and save the lost by selecting a small group of men and then teaching, training, and developing the character traits of these men who would eventually do the same to other men.

a.   (Mk. 3:13-14) “And He (Jesus) went up to the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him.  And He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him, and that He might send them out to preach.”

b.   See also Mk. 6:7-13; Matt. 10:1; Lk. 10:1-17.

3.   As Christians, one of our main goals is to seek and save the lost as well.

a.   (Mk. 16:15) “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation’” – Jesus.

b.  (1 Pet. 2:9) “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

c.   See also Eph. 1:3-6; 8b-12 where it says that our purpose here on earth is “to the praise of the glory of His grace” (Eph. 1:6) and repeated in Eph. 1:12.  We are to proclaim, verbalize this salvation message.

4.   Since our goal (point 3) is the same as Jesus’ (point 1), then it logically follows that we should follow His example in order to reach this goal (Matt. 28:19-20).  He is our example in other things as well – Jn. 13:15; 1 Pet. 2:21.  As such, we should seek to build up believers using Christ’s method in order to achieve our goal.

5.   The discipleship method of teaching is etymologically, as well as, culturally inherent in the root word for “disciple.”  “Manthanō,” which denotes the process by which one acquires theoretical knowledge (TNIDNTT, page 483).

The teacher-pupil relationship was a common feature of the ancient world where Greek philosophers and Jewish Rabbis gathered around them groups of learners – The New Bible Dictionary.  The apostle Paul was taught in this manner (method) by Gamaliel, by sitting at his feet – Acts 5:34; 22:3.

D.  Because building believers is one of our main reasons for being left here on earth after conversion, as seen by the early Church.

1.   Christ-likeness was one of the apostle Paul’s main goals and commanded others to do the same: Gal. 4:19; Acts 18:11; 19:10; 20:18-21, 31; 1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1; Phil. 4:9; 2 Tim. 2:2.  Paul built up spiritually:

a.   Timothy – Acts 16:1-4 (Acts 16:3, “with him”); Acts 17:15; 19:22; 20:4; 2 Tim. 2:2; 1 Cor. 4:17; 2 Cor. 1:19; Rom. 16:21.

b.   Luke – Acts 16:10-14; Col. 4:14; 2 Tim. 4:11.

c.   Aquila and Priscilla – Acts 18:2-3, 18, 26; Rom. 16:3.

d.   Silas (Silvanus) – Acts 15:40; 16:19, 25; 17:4, 10, 15; 2 Cor. 1:19.

e.   Titus – 2 Cor. 2:12-13; 7:6, 13-14; 8:6, 16, 23; 12:18; Gal. 2:1; 2 Tim. 4:10; Tit. 1:4.

f.    Christians in the cities of Corinth, Philippi, and Thessalonica – 1 Cor. 4:15-17; 11:1-2; Phil. 3:17; 4:9; 1 Thes. 2:8-12; 2 Thes. 3:7-9.

2.   Barnabas built believers:

a.   Saul (the apostle Paul) – Acts 9:26-27; 11:22-26; 12:25; 13:2-14:28.

b.   John Mark – Acts 15:39; 2 Tim. 4:11; Philemon 1:23-24.

3.   Timothy was to and did – 2 Tim. 2:2; 1 Thes. 1:1, 6 (“us”).

4.   Aquila and Priscilla did:

a.   Apollos – Acts 18:24-26.

b.   Others (the church in their house) – 1 Cor. 16:19.

5.   The Thessalonians made disciples – 1 Thes. 1:6-8.

Therefore, as Christians in the twentieth century, we need to be building up believers spiritually into Christ-likeness in character and mission.

E.   Because qualified men are God’s method for reaching the world as was clearly seen in the life of His Son.  “We are constantly on a stretch, if not on a strain to devise new methods, new plans, new organizations to advance the Church and secure enlargement and efficiency for the gospel.  This trend of the day has a tendency to lose sight of the man or sink the man in the plan or organization.  God’s plan is to make much of the man, far more of him than of anything else.  Men are Gods’ method.  The church is looking for better methods, God is looking for better men” – Power Through Prayer by E. M. Bounds, page 11.

“It all started by Jesus calling a few men to follow Him.  This revealed immediately the direction His evangelistic strategy would take.  His concern was not with programs to reach the multitudes, but with men whom the multitudes would follow…Men were to be His method of winning the world to God.”

“The initial objective of Jesus’ plan was to enlist men who could bear witness to His life and carry on His work after He returned to the Father” – The Master Plan of Evangelism, page 21.

F.   Because the geometric progression of successful training is the only way to reach the entire world with the gospel message.  “The cost involved in multiplication can also be seen in the fact that it is initially slower than the process of addition.  This is particularly important as we apply it to fulfilling the Great Commission.  Let’s say for example that a gifted evangelist is able to lead 1,000 people to Christ every day.  Each year he will have reached 365,000 people, a phenomenal ministry indeed.”

“Let’s compare him with a disciple who leads not 1,000 people a day to Christ, but only one person a year.  At the end of one year, the disciple has one convert; the evangelist, 365,000.  But suppose the disciple has not only led his man to Christ, but has also trained him.  He has prayed with him, taught him how to feed himself from the Word of God, gotten him into fellowship with like-minded believers, taken him out on evangelism and showed him how to present the Gospel to other people.  At the end of that first year, this new convert is able to lead another man to Christ and follow him up as he himself has been followed up.

“At the start of the second year, the disciple has doubled his ministry – the one has become two.  During the second year, each man goes out and leads not 1, 000 people per day to Christ, but one person per year.  At the end of the second year, we have four people.  You can see how slow our process is.  But note, too, that we do not have only converts, but disciples who are able to reproduce themselves.  At this rate of doubling every year, the disciple, leading one man per year to Christ will overtake the evangelist somewhere in the 19th year.  From then on, the disciple and his multiplying ministry will be propagating faster than the combined ministry of dozens of gifted evangelists…”

“Multiplication may be costly and, in the initial stages, much slower than addition, but in the long run, it is the most effective way to accomplishing Christ’s Great Commission…and the only way” – Disciples are Made, Not Born, pages 141-143.

PART ONE SUMMARY:

As we have seen, a disciple is a learner, pupil, or follower of another.  In the book of Acts, “mathētēs” refers to Christians in general.  A Christ-qualified disciple is a Christian who is committed to obeying Jesus Christ at any price.

We have also seen that discipleship involves a process of helping less mature Christians grow in three areas: knowledge, leadership skill, and character.

And finally, we have seen that building believers is for all Christians because it is a command, it is how we fulfill our main reason for existence (to seek the lost), it is exemplified by the early church, and because it is the only logical way to reach the world for Christ.

V.     HOW DO WE BUILD UP BELIEVERS SPIRITUALLY INTO CHRIST-LIKENESS?

A.  First by being a disciple of Jesus ourselves since a significant part of training is imparted to the new believer by the trainer modeling the life of Christ and the new believer “imitating” the Christ-like manner of the trainer – Phil. 3:17; 4:9; 1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1.  More is “caught” than “taught.”  As such, our lives should be exemplary, worthy of imitation (1 Pet. 1:15-16).  Refer to section II for these qualifications.  As such, it is of great help in building believers if we are being trained at the same time by someone else.

B.   By following (duplicating) Jesus’ example (method) and principles of discipleship as seen in the Gospels.

1.   By carefully selecting qualified Christians to train.  This selection is at the trainer’s discretion – Mk. 3:13-14; Lk. 6:12-13.  Certain qualifications to consider:

a.   a teachable attitude – Lk. 11:1.

b.   an eagerness to learn/change – Mk. 7:17.

c.   a heart for God – Acts 13:22; Matt. 22:37.

d.   availability – Mk. 3:14.

e.   faithfulness – 2 Tim. 2:2.

WARNING: DISqualified is worse than UNqualified.  Be very careful who you choose to train!

2.   By having the person follow us at any cost – Matt. 8:18-33; Lk. 9:57-62; 14:25-35 (see section II B.)

3.   By having them travel with us wherever we go, near or far.  Jesus took His men with Him when He went:

a.   to the synagogues – Mk. 1:21, 39.

 b.   to the home of His disciples – Mk. 1:29.

c.   to His home – Mk. 2:1, 15.

d.   through the grain fields – Mk. 2:23.

e.   up to the mountains – Mk. 3:13.

f.    to the beach (the sea) – Mk. 4:36-5:1

g.   to all the surrounding cities and regions: Capernaum, Galilee, Gennesaret, Caesarea Philippi, Jericho, Jerusalem, and many other places – Mk. 1:21, 39; 6:53; 8:27; 10:46; 11:1.

4.   By instructing (teaching) them on various issues and people: the multitudes, needed workers, His death, marriage, the Pharisees, the scribes, poor people, rich people, etc. – Matt. 9:36-38; 20:17-18; 19:1-12; 23:1-35; Lk. 20:45-47; Lk. 21:1-4; Matt. 26:9-11; 19:23-24.

5.   By letting your trainees see your responses to different people and events.

a.   Compassion for people – Mk. 1:41; 6:34; Matt. 9:36-38.

b.   Anger and grief at the hardness of people – Mk. 3:5.

c.   Indignation at improper conduct – Mk. 10:14.

d.   Family relationships – Mk. 3:32-25.

e.   Carnal disciples who need rebuke – Mk. 8:33.

f.    Moneychangers in the Temple – Mk. 11:15-17.

g.   Guilty sinners – Jn. 8:1-11 (woman caught in adultery).

6.   By confronting wrong attitudes they or others have.

a.   The disciples’ lack of faith – Mk. 4:40.

b.   The Pharisees and scribes for their hypocrisy, distorted values, and man-made traditions that prevented God-ward obedience – Mk. 7:6-13.

c.   The disciples for their lack of understanding – Mk. 7:18.

d.   The disciples for their hardened hearts – Mk. 8:17-21.

e.   The disciples for their wrong perspective on priorities – Mk. 14:6-8.

f.    The Pharisees for their religious rules over people’s needs – Mk. 2:25-28.

7.   By letting your trainees see you evangelize – Lk. 5:27-32.

8.   By demonstrating a life of self-sacrifice.

a.   Jesus ministering to people day and night – Mk. 1:32-34.

b.   So busy that He could not eat a meal – Mk. 3:20.

c.   When He needed rest and solitude, He ministered out of compassion – Mk. 6:31-44.

9.   By demonstrating the need to get alone at times.

a.   Jesus goes to the mountains to pray after sending the multitudes away and making the disciples get into a boat to go away from Him – Mk. 6:45-48.

b.   Jesus sent the disciples away in a boat to get rest – Mk. 6:31-32.

10. By explaining things that they don’t understand.

a.   parables – Mk. 7:10-23, 34.

b.   about Elijah – Mk. 9:11-12.

c.   about casting out demons – Mk. 9:28-29.

11. By not telling them everything at first or telling them more than they can handle – Jn. 16:12.

12. By showing them follow-up procedures – Jn. 4:39-41; Mk. 5:19.

13. By demonstrating obedience to civil laws – Mk. 12:12-17; Matt. 17:24-27.

14. By warning them about false teachers – Mk. 13:21-23.

15. By demonstrating to them a life of goals, priorities, and schedule – Mk. 1:38; Lk. 13:32; Jn. 7:3-6.

16. By demonstrating and teaching them about prayer – Mk. 1:35; 6:46; 14:35; Matt. 6:6-13; 9:38; Lk. 11:1-4; 18:1-8.

17. By delegating responsibilities to them.

a.   to get a boat ready – Mk. 3:9.

b.   to check on food and distribute it – Mk. 6:38, 41; 8:6, 8.

c.   to get a colt – Mk. 11:1-3.

d.   to find a room for supper and get it prepared – Mk. 14:12-15.

18. By demonstrating principles on organization – Mk. 6:39-43; 8:6-8.

19. By supervising the disciples (having them report back) – Mk. 6:30.

20. By encouraging them through promises of reward – Mk. 10:29-30; Lk. 6:22-23.

21. By demonstrating a life involved with helping people in their physical problems – Mk. 1:34; 5:34, 41-42; 6:5, 56; 8:2-6.

22. By teaching them to trust God for provisions – Mk. 6:8-10; Matt. 6:25-34.

23. By teaching them how to relate to other Christian groups – Mk. 9:38-40.

24. By answering their questions – Mk. 10:10-12; Matt. 13:10-11; 15:12-14; 17:10-12, 19-21; 18:1-4; 19:25-26; 21:20-21; Jn. 9.

25. By asking them questions to stimulate their thinking and their faith in God – Matt. 16:13; 17:25; 24:2; 26:40-45; Mk. 9:33.

26. By teaching them how to answer questions that they will be asked or what to say in certain situations – Mk. 11:3; 14:14.

27. By correcting their improper suggestions, statements, evaluations, and observations.

a.   regarding sending the multitudes away to acquire their own food – Matt. 14:15-18.

b.   regarding sending the Syrophoenician woman away because she was shouting after them – Matt. 15:22-28.

c.   regarding their rebuking of the children coming to Jesus – Matt. 19:13-14.

d.   regarding the woman’s pouring of perfume on Jesus’ head – Matt. 26:8-10.

e.   regarding their wanting Jesus to eat – Jn. 4:31-32.

28. By making them do certain things (that they might not want to do otherwise) that are for their best welfare (though they might not understand at the time) – Matt. 14:22; Mk. 6:45.

29. By defending them when they are falsely accused – Matt. 15:2-14.

30. By sharing your feelings with them on certain occasions – Matt. 15:32-36; Mk. 14:34.

31. By preparing them for persecution and suffering – Matt. 5:10-12; 10:24-25.

32. By warning them to keep certain things confidential – Matt. 16:20; 17:9.

33. By demonstrating humility to them – Jn. 13:5-15.

34. By having them as your friends – Lk. 12:4; Jn. 15:14-15.

35. By spending a lot of time with them preparing them to go out on their own – Mk. 3:14; Jn. 11:54; 3:22; Matt. 10:5.

36. By modeling or demonstrating by example what you want them to copy or imitate.

a.   Humility and servant attitude – Jn. 13:5-15.

b.   Suffering patiently when persecuted for doing good or right – 1 Pet. 2:21.

37. By encouraging them to trust you when at times they won’t understand why they’re to do what you ask – Jn. 13:6-8.

38. By singing together – Matt. 26:30.

C.   By following or duplicating Paul’s example (method) or training as seen in the book of Acts unless otherwise noted.

1.   By having the person follow you at any cost and at your selection – Acts 16:1-3 (Timothy); Acts 15:40 (Silas).

2.   By having them travel with you – Acts 16:1-17:5; 18:5; 19:22; 20:4; 15:40-41.

3.   By instructing them on various issues and people – 2 Tim. 2:2.

4.   By letting them see your responses to different people and events – Acts 16:16-40.

5.   By confronting wrong attitudes that others had, as they observe – Acts 18:5-6.

6.   By letting them see you evangelize – Acts 16:14.

7.   By demonstrating a life of self-sacrifice – Acts 20:22-24, 33-34; 21:4.

8.   By demonstrating a life of goals, priorities, and schedule – Acts 20:16, 24.

9.   By warning them about false teachers – Acts 20:28-31.

10. By delegating responsibilities to them – Acts 19:22.

11. By demonstrating to them a life of prayer – Acts 16:25; 20:36; 21:5.

12. By encouraging them through promise of reward – Acts 20:32.

13. By demonstrating a life involved with helping people’s physical problems – Acts 19:11-12; 20:9-12.

14. By correcting their improper suggestions and evaluations – Acts 21:12-13; 20:22.

15. By instructing them on various issues – Acts 19:9-10; 20:10, 31.

16. By demonstrating humility to them – Acts 20:18-19.

17. By spending lots of time with them – Acts 18:11; 19:9-10; 21:4; 20:30-31.

18. By singing together – Acts 16:25.

19. By having the trainees do things that they might not want to do – Acts 16:3.

20. By modeling or demonstrating by example what you want them to copy.

a.   Paul’s ways that resemble (imitate) Christ especially in being flexible in order to do anything to see people saved – 1 Cor. 10:23-11:1; 4:15-17.

b.   As he received the word in much tribulation with joy of the Holy Spirit – 1 Thes. 1:6.

c.   Paul’s example of not acting in an undisciplined manner – 2 Thes. 3:7-9.

d.   His example of pressing on toward the goal of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus – Phil. 3:14-17.

e.   Paul’s exhortation to Timothy to show himself an example in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity – 1 Tim. 4:12.

f.    Paul’s exhortation to the Philippians to practice the things they had seen Paul model/demonstrate – Phil. 4:9.

VI.       WHAT SHOULD BE COVERED IN BUILDING UP BELIEVERS?

Remember, training is not a static program; it is a dynamic process because there is always more to learn, more skills to develop and sharpen, and more character to perfect.  As such, the following is a suggested list of the things that should be imparted into the life of the trainee in the course of the training process.  This list is not exhaustive.

A.  What should the trainee KNOW (the impartation of knowledge)?

1.   THEOLOGY:

The Character of God, Pneumatology, Revelation, Dispensationalism, Canonicity, Eschatology, Trinitarianism, Christology, Soteriology, Inspiration, Demonology, Ecclesiology, Anthropology, Hamartiology, Covenants, etc.

2.   APOLOGETICS:

Evolution vs. Creation, Miracles, the Bible being the infallible Word of God, etc.

3.   The MAJOR RELIGIONS, CULTS, FALSE TEACHERS, etc.

4.   SCHOOLS OF THEOLOGY:

Liberal, Fundamental-Evangelical, Neo-Orthodox, Reformed

5.   DOCTRINES and TOPICS:

Prayer, Trials, Forgiveness, Humility, Joy, Reproving, Popularity, Meekness, Honor, Peace, Servanthood, Covetousness, Assurance of Salvation, Satan, Love, Fellowship, Judging, Faithfulness, Suffering, Jealousy, Emotions, The Tongue, Complaining, Worship, Kindness, Faith, Obedience, Temptation, Discipleship, Pride, Truth, Hope, Anger, Spiritual Warfare, Giving, Discipline, Worldliness, Sin, etc.

B.   What should the trainee DO (the impartation of ministry skills)?

1.   With NON-CHRISTIANS:

Evangelism/witnessing, dealing with cults, etc.

2.   With CHRISTIANS:

Supervise, encourage, work through conflicts, counsel, organize, plan, ask good questions, confront, motivate, speak publicly, lead, give, develop interpersonal relationships, impart vision for reaching the world, lead a guided discussion Bible study, follow-up immature Christians (initial steps of training), etc.

3.   With GOD:

Have an established Quiet time, pray, meditate on the Bible, determine His will, study and interpret His Word, etc.

4.   For HIMSELF/HERSELF:

Set objective/goals/priorities, critique speakers and literature, shop thriftily, manage his/her finances, hear the Word of God, study the Word of God, apply the Word of God, develop good study habits, schedule and manage his/her time, maintain clean living areas, cook balanced meals, live a Spirit-filled life, read the Word of God, memorize the Word of God, love others unconditionally, control his/her tongue, put together a topical Bible study and sermon, operate basic office equipment (e.g., computer/word processor, CD/DVD burner, printers, etc.)

            C.   What should the trainee BE (the impartation of Christian character)?

Caring, truthful, positive, encouraging, sober-minded, forgiving, steadfast, responsible, flexible, hospitable, honest, genuine, enthusiastic, passionate for souls, lover for God’s Word and prayer, thoughtful, sensitive yet uncompromising, eternal perspective, clean, analytical, wise, kind, loving, open, confident (in God), visionary, creative, selfless, joyful, teachable, expressive, servant spirit, humble yet bold, spiritually-minded, organized, patient, persevering, punctual, grateful, neat, sincere, disciplined, understanding, Christ-controlled, faithful, cooperative, trusting in God, giving, committed, discerning, appreciative, thrifty, etc.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

I heartily recommend the following books for a study on discipleship:

  1. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts  by God.
  2. The Master Plan of Evangelism (Victor Books)  by Robert E. Coleman.
  3. True Discipleship (Walterick Publishers)  by William MacDonald.
  4. The Lost Art of Disciplemaking (Zondervan/NavPress)  by LeRoy Eims.
  5. Disciples are Made, Not Born (Victor Books)  by Walter A. Henrichsen.
  6. Jesus Christ Disciplemaker (NavPress)  by Bill Hull.

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