Go and Make Disciples of All Nations

Series ID: 
60
/assets/worddocs/herrick_discipleship.zip
Ad Category: 

1. Description of the Course

This course is about discipleship, but it is discipleship intentionally viewed from the perspective of glorifying God through His Son by the power of His Spirit. Thus, it is kingdom discipleship. It is firstly and ultimately about Him, not us. Discipleship is not a self-help word. It is a relational word; it speaks about growing intimacy with God and informed obedience in all our relationships. He has saved us and called us into fellowship with his Son. It is He who enables us to remain in Him and it is He who calls us to a life of vibrant, scripturally oriented, Spirit sponsored obedience. It is He who will bring us safely, though not without struggles, into our eternal inheritance. All the glory and praise goes to our Trinitarian God! If we get that straight, we're off to a flyin' start.

Now the only worthy response to God—who has dealt with us so mercifully and patiently—is to worship wholeheartedly. But Paul said that worship involved more than just singing and praising God, though these excellent habits are essential to the overall experience of genuinely knowing God. Rather, worship involves our whole lives lived truthfully and sacrificially in light of our Father's mercy. Worship involves pleasing God with our whole heart (of which our head is included) and hands, and remaining free of the pollution found in the pattern of this sinful world (cf. Romans 12:1-2). It involves living in God's family with humility, love, and service, as well as relating properly to all men (e.g., Roman 13:1-7).

In summary, then, the point of this course is to receive God's kingdom and power, and to live it out in scripturally informed and meaningful ways. This is discipleship. Now in the first part of this course, we will deepen our reflection on the theology of discipleship as "part and parcel" of creating a profile of a disciple. An informed disciple of Christ deeply believes many important doctrines from Scripture and constantly relates Biblical teaching to his/her ministry. A disciple of Christ also possesses and is growing in certain Christ-like virtues. And finally, he/she as a disciple and disciplemaker (i.e., an example to others) is seeking Christ's strength and glory in the development of certain habits of holiness.

The practice of discipleship takes up the latter half of the course. Here we will learn some skills for helping others grow in the faith and become reproducing disciples. In short, our goal is that there will be multi-generational Christians and that each person will be a spiritual parent, grandparent, great grandparent, etc. Paul commanded Timothy to entrust the teachings to faithful men who will be qualified to teach others also (2 Tim 2:2). This is what it means to labor to the glory of God (Col 1:28-29).

Objectives of the Course

There are several objectives to the course. These include intellectual, affective, and volitional goals.

1. The student will understand the meaning of the term disciple.

2. The student will understand and appreciate the importance of the theology of discipleship and how the Great Commission fits into God’s overall plan and how it relates to the two Great Commandments. Out of this the student will see the importance of discipleship and gain confidence in the Lord that He wants to use him/her in this way.

3. The student will understand and personally desire to exhibit the virtues of Christlikeness. In keeping with this goal, he/she will understand the nature of the spiritual life and its relationship to the development of Christ-like virtues. He/she will see this as foundational to any fruitful ministry of discipling others for the Lord.

4. The student will learn some basic skills in helping a new believer as well as a believer who is older but has not matured a great deal. Grace and truth will characterize all of his/her ministry.

5. The student will desire to be involved with others who are committed to making disciples and seek to make a unifying and positive contribution in that context.

6. The student will give some thought to the potential and actual problems involved in discipling others and seek scripturally oriented, contextually relevant solutions.

Assignments for the Course

There are three assignments for this course.

1. Before the course begins the student is to lay out a basic plan for how they might help a new believer grow in Christ. This does not have to be comprehensive, but it must be something you would actually try and do with a person and something which you can build on. So it must be done thoughtfully. You may create any scenario you like, but make it practical and concrete.

2. At the end of the course, the student will reevaluate their discipleship plan and revise it as necessary. Each student will prepare a plan that can be used by someone else. They will use it themselves and have copies available for others to use.

3. The student will write out their testimony in two pages (3 minutes spoken) with a before, during, and after, and a clear presentation of the gospel message shall be included in the “during” section.

Ad Category: 
Biblical Topics: 
Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

2. Understanding The Meaning of the Term “Disciple”

IA. The Term “Disciple” and the Concept of “Discipleship”

1B. Basic Meaning of μαθητής

The Greek term μαθητής (mathētēs) refers generally to any “student,” “pupil,” “apprentice,” or “adherent,” as opposed to a “teacher.” In the ancient world, however, it is most often associated, with people who were devoted followers of a great religious leader or teacher of philosophy.

2B. In the Old Testament1

1C. The Term

The term μαθητής does not occur in the Greek translation of the Old Testament (i.e., the Septuagint [LXX]).2 This does not mean, however, that other terms are not used or that the concept and practice is not there. Indeed, it seems that it is.

2C. The Concept and Practice

Several traditions within the national life of Israel make it reasonable to assume that the concept and practice of personal discipleship existed.

1D. Isaiah 8:16 and 50:4

“Tie up the scroll as legal evidence, seal the official record of God’s instructions and give it to my followers” (בְּלִמֻּדָי). The Hebrew term for followers is fromלמד which means “to learn” or “instruct” and may indicate that Isaiah had built up “a circle” of disciples whom he personally instructed and who could promulgate his teachings among many in the nation. As Watts says, it seems that Isaiah wanted to deposit “his treasure of warnings and teachings with his disciples.”3 That is, while he may not have had a formal school, as we see in the case of Elisha (1 Kings 20:35; 2 Kings 2:3-15; 4:1-38), he, nonetheless, gathered around himself certain men and passed his teachings on to them.

In Isaiah 50:4 the writer says that God wakes him every morning and gives him attentiveness so that he can listen and learn. In this way he is like a disciple (כַּלִּמּוּדִים). Therefore, involved in the concept of being a disciple is a willing, listening, and obedient heart.

2D. Other Texts and Israelite Traditions

There are other institutions and traditions in Israel that seem to involve some level of personal discipleship. This could be expected in the school of the prophets (1 Samuel 19:20-24;4 1 Kings 20:35; 2 Kings 2:3-15; 4:1-38) and is further evidenced in the entire wisdom tradition running throughout the Jewish way of life (Prov 1-9). There is, however, no explicit instruction given on how to personally disciple another, except perhaps in the home (cf. Deut 6).

3B. In Greek Culture

The Greeks used the term μαθητής to refer to a “learner,” or on a more committed level, an “adherent.” The Sophists also used the term to refer to an “institutional pupil.” At the time of Jesus μαθητής was used in Hellenism to refer simply to a “learner,” but apparently more often to an “adherent” of some wise teacher (Dio Chrysostom, Regno 1.38.6). Regarding the nature of the adherence involved, Wilkins observes:

The type of adherence was determined by the master, ranging from being the follower of a great thinker and master of the past like Socrates, to being the pupil of a philosopher like Pythagoras, to being the devotee of a religious master like Epicurus.5

4B. In Jewish Culture of the First Century

Just as there were “disciples” in the Greco-Roman world of the first century, so there were people called disciples in Judaism as well. Such people were committed to a recognized leader or movement. This involved Jewish adherents to Philosophical schools or to religious and political sects. The Pharisees apparently had their own disciples and they too claimed to be disciples of Moses (John 9:28-296). John the Baptist also had disciples who lived with him and followed him, practiced his ascetic lifestyle, and promulgated (to some extent) his teachings (Mark 2:18; Luke 11:1; John 3:25; Acts 19:1-7).

In general, the education of boys in first century Judaism centered in the home around Torah learning. The Torah was taught primarily by the Father. But during the time of Jesus there is good evidence to suggest that primary schools (beth Sepher) had been developed to mitigate against the inroads of Hellenism.7 But after a boy was thirteen years of age there was no more formal education as such. If he wanted further training in preparation for being a judge, teacher, scribe, or head of a synagogue, he might continue his study of the Torah in a small group or seek to study as a disciple under a certain scholar.8 The apostle Paul was an example of a Jewish boy who had left home (i.e., Tarsus) to study the Law under Gamaliel, a famous Rabbi in Jerusalem (Acts 5:34; 22:3).

5B. Summary

There is evidence that personal discipleship was carried on among the Greeks and the Jews. Though the term “disciple” is used in different ways in the literature of the period, there are examples of discipleship referring to people committed to following a great leader, emulating his life and passing on his teachings. In these cases, discipleship meant much more than just the transfer of information. Again, it referred to imitating the teacher’s life, inculcating his values, and reproducing his teachings. For the Jewish boy over thirteen this meant going to study with a recognized Torah scholar, imitating his life and faith, and concentrating on mastering the Mosaic Law as well as the traditional interpretations of it.

IIA. Jesus’ Call to Discipleship: It’s Threefold Nature

1B. Discipleship as a Call to Personal Commitment to Jesus

1C. The Call: To Be With Him and To Know Him (Mark 3:14)

Early in his earthly ministry Jesus called certain men to be with him and to follow him; he summoned twelve disciples to his side. Though we cannot literally walk with him today, through his Spirit, we nonetheless have been summoned by Him as well. We have been summoned to his side in order that we might be with him, that we might really come to know him, and that we might follow him along the path of discipleship. But the heart of the call of Christ is to be with him and to know him intimately.

1D. Mark 3:14

He appointed twelve (whom he named apostles), so that they might be with him and that he could [then] send them to preach.

2D. 1 Corinthians 1:9

God who has called us into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord is faithful.

3D. Philippians 3:10

My aim is to know him, to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings, and to be like him in his death, 3:11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

2C. The Goal: To Enjoy Him and Become Like Him (Luke 6:40)

Jesus has summoned us to his side, but not simply to put us to work. His summoning—and make no mistake about it, it is a summoning—is first a call to know him (cf. Matt 4:19), to have intimate fellowship with him (1 Cor 1:9) and to enjoy Him. This is primary and necessary. If the disciples were to have lost interest in him as a person and friend, they would never have continued to walk with him. We are no different. It is in the context of deepening intimacy that he commands us to be like him. In short, it is primarily through fellowship with the Master that we begin to look, feel, and act like the Master (cf. 2 Cor 3:18).

1D. 1 Corinthians 1:9

God who has called you into fellowship with Christ Jesus our Lord is faithful.

2. Philippians 3:10-11

10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

3. Luke 6:40

A disciple is not greater than his teacher, but everyone when fully trained (κατηρτισμένος) will be like his teacher.

2D. John 13:14-17

13:14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you too ought to wash one another’s feet. 13:15 For I have given you an example (ὑπόδειγμα): you should do just as I have done for you. 13:16 I tell you the solemn truth, the slave is not greater than his master (κύριος), nor is the one who is sent as a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 13:17 If you understand these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

4D. 1 Corinthians 11:1

Be imitators (μιμηταί) of me, just as I also am of Christ.

2B. Discipleship as a Call to Follow Jesus

Discipleship is a call to be with, know and enjoy the Master. In this sense, the call to Biblical discipleship presupposes salvation, i.e., that a person has believed in Christ as Lord and Savior and continues to believe in Him. But discipleship is also a summons to follow Jesus and this is, at times, no easy matter. He demands exclusive, complete, and unflinching obedience to Himself. This is where his summons to discipleship is so radically different from Plato who stressed the freedom of the student from the teacher or even the Jewish religious leaders who focused more on the Torah and steered their disciples away from themselves. Jesus, on the other hand, pointed people to himself9 (and still does) and calls them to radical commitment to him. Jesus’ call to discipleship is a call to Christlikeness which includes at least three related facts: (1) the demand; (2) the added promise; and (3) the grace.

1C. The Demand

Jesus’ call to discipleship is an all-or-nothing summons, reaching into every area of our lives. It involves giving him preeminence over the closest of our human relationships and over the desires we have for our lives. In short, it involves becoming his servant in the world and giving your life to that end. Paradoxically we give up that which we cannot keep to gain that which we cannot lose. If we don’t, we lose all in the end (cf. Matt 16:25).

The cross was an instrument of death and well known to the Jews. The suffering was intolerable. But Jesus says we are to take it up and follow him. This will, in the nature of the case, involve self-denial. The one who picked up the cross-beam of his cross was headed down a one-way street, never to return.

1D. Luke 9:23-24

9:23 Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. 9:24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

2D. Luke 14:25-35

14:25 Now large crowds were accompanying Jesus, and turning to them he said, 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 14:27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 14:28 For which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn’t sit down first and compute the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 14:29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish the tower, all who see it will begin to make fun of him. 14:30 They will say, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish!’ 14:31 Or what king, going out to confront another king in battle, will not sit down first and determine whether he is able with ten thousand to face the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 14:32 If he cannot succeed, he will send a representative while the other is still a long way off and ask for terms of peace. 14:33 In the same way therefore not one of you can be my disciple if he does not renounce all his own possessions. 14:34 “Salt is good, but if salt loses its flavor, how can its flavor be restored? 14:35 It is of no value for the soil or for the manure pile; it is to be thrown out. The one who has ears to hear had better listen!”

3D. Mark 10:42-45

10:42 Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in high positions use their authority over them. 10:43 But it is not this way among you. Instead whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, 10:44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave (διάκονος) of all. 10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

2C. The Grace

The demand of Jesus’ call to discipleship is impossible for a human being, unaided, to fulfill. We must have resources to accomplish this kind of life. Those resources come directly from Christ and are promised to us if we abide in him. This is the point of Jesus’ teaching in John 15:1-11ff. He told his disciples that even though he was departing the world, he would nonetheless carry on his life and ministry through them, his chosen ones (15:16). From John 14:26, 15:26 and 16:13-14 we know that his life would be lived in and through the disciples via the indwelling Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 8:9; 1 Cor 3:16). We will discuss this a little more when we talk about the relationship of discipleship to the kingdom of God.

1D. Matthew 11:28-30

Those who listened to Jesus were agrarian and familiar with his farming metaphors. They knew the meaning of physical “burdens.” Jesus is probably also referring to the religious burdens imposed on people by their religious teachers, who incidentally, never lifted finger to help. But, Jesus was different. He definitely had a yoke, but he was gentle, humble in heart, and his yoke was easy and his burden light.

11:28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 11:29 Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 11:30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.”

2D. John 15:5-8

15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me—and I in him—bears much fruit, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing. 15:6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown out like a branch, and dries up; and such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, and burned up.15:7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want, and it will be done for you. 15:8 My Father is honored by this, that you bear much fruit and show that you are my disciples.”

3C. The Promise

The call to discipleship is not without its struggles, suffering, and sometimes intense difficulties. But it is not without its promises either. In Mark 10:28ff Jesus was quick to remind the inquiring disciples that there was a reward for following him. Jesus did not rebuke Peter for his implied question, “What then will be for us?” but rather addressed it with a three-fold promise introduced by a solemn declaration: “I tell you the truth….” Those who leave family, friends, etc. for Jesus and the gospel will not fail to receive (1) a hundredfold what he has lost (in the new community of faith); (2) to suffer persecutions, and (3) to have eternal life in the age to come.10 The timing on the giving of reward and persecution is in the hands of the Lord.

Mark 10:28 Peter began to speak to him, “Look, we have left everything to follow you!” 10:29 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, there is no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for my sake and for the sake of the gospel 10:30 who will not receive in this age a hundred times as much—homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, fields, all with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life. 10:31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

3B. Discipleship as a Call to “Make Disciples”

The idea that Jesus was calling the disciples to himself for a special purpose is evident in his initial call. He summoned his disciples saying, “Come follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt 4:19; Mark 1:17).11 This initial comment about reaching men was reasserted as a command when the resurrected Lord stood before his disciples in Matthew 28:18-20. Let’s explore that now.

1C. The Text: Matthew 28:18-20

28:18 Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 28:20 teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

2C. The Context: “All Authority in Heaven and Earth”

Jesus exercised absolute authority during his earthly ministry. He raised the dead, judged men and forgave sins. He performed miracles and spoke fresh and binding revelation (24:35). His authority, however, now extends to both heaven and earth, the entire universe (cf. Heb 1:3).12 He not only rules the earth, but also heaven. He is in control of all things. It is in light of the unlimited exercise of his absolute authority over every person, tribe, nation, and tongue that he commands the disciples to “go and make disciples” (cf. Eph 1:20-23).

3C. The Command: “Therefore, go and make disciples….”

The term “go” does not mean “as you go” but takes with it some of the imperatival force of the main verb “make.” It is subordinate in focus to “make,” but still communicates the command to “go!” The idea of making a disciple is fleshed out more in the idea of teaching them to obey all things Jesus commanded. We are to encourage people to submit to the Lordship of Christ as expressed in his teachings to the disciples and we are to show them what that looks like with our own lives.

4C. The Content: Baptizing and Teaching

The two participles “baptizing” and “teaching,” while related to the main verb “make,” do not simply convey the idea of means, but rather are intended to show two elements that predominate in the process of carrying out the action of the main verb. In other words, two elements that should characterize the process of making disciples are baptizing and teaching. Disciples are to be baptized into a Trinitarian understanding of God and relationship with him, and they are to be taught to obey implicitly whatever Messiah Jesus has taught us (now preserved in Scripture). As we carry out the task of discipling the nations, the Abrahamic covenant is being fulfilled (Matt 1:1).

5C. The Continuity: “I will be with you….”

In the daunting task of discipling the nations, the disciples needed to know—and so do we—that their (our) risen Lord would be with them. He is in control of the nations and has sent us to them with the message of eternal life. Now, through the strength provided by His indwelling Spirit (Col 1:28-29) we are to encourage them to welcome the kingdom and to live out Jesus’ life, values, and commitments.

IIIA. Summary

Let’s summarize what we’ve been talking about thus far. For our purposes, then, a “disciple of Christ” is someone who has been called first to know Christ, then to follow him, and then to make disciples of all nations. That is, in our knowing Christ we are becoming like him—thinking, feeling, and living as he commands. In this spiritual ambience of personal relationship with him, that is, in light of our experience of the kingdom, he summons us to be his disciples. We are to follow him, through thick and through thin, knowing that he is there and that he will reward us in his time; after all, he is the Master. But discipleship not only involves being with him, being like him, and following him, it also means that we make it our goal to disciple others—indeed, every nation under the sun. The Great Commission is not just another good idea—though it is that—it is the church’s marching order. As far as I know, he never communicated another plan.

IVA. Questions for Thought

1. Put into your own words what it means to be a disciple of Christ.

2. Why does Jesus call us to such radical commitment to him?

3. Why is it important to see that our allegiance to Christ must be first, even ahead of the work of discipling others?

4. What is most important to you about discipleship and what are you most reluctant to do? What are you most afraid of?

5. How does the promise of Matthew 11:28-30 and 28:20 help you in your willingness to step out and disciple people?

6. Jesus said that discipling another person means to teach them to obey. Are you exempt from the task of discipling others if you do not have the gift of teaching?

7. Who are some people that you can begin praying for right now? How could God use you to disciple them, working with them for their progress and joy in the faith?

1 See M. J. Wilkins, “Disciples,” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, ed. Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight, and I. Howard Marshall (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1992), 176. Cf. also K. H. Rengstorf, TDNT, IV: 415-461, s.v. μανθάνω.

2 But cf. Codex A, verse 1 of Jeremiah 13:21; 20:11. See BAGD, s.v., μαθητής.

3 John D. Watts, Isaiah 1-33, in The Word Biblical Commentary, ed. David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker, vol. 24 (Dallas: Word, 1985), in loc. (electronic version).

4 In this passage Samuel is referred to as the “leader over the prophets” (נִצָּב עֲלֵיהֶם) and in 2 Kings 2:5 Elijah is referred to as Elisha’s “master” (אֲדֹנֶיךָ). Undoubtedly, these texts imply a discipleship relationship of sorts. The fact that Elisha was constantly with his master Elijah, and that he was to carry on the ministry of his master (2 Kings 2:10), is further evidence of this.

5 Wilkins, “Disciples,” 176; Rengstorf, s.v. μαθητής.

6 The Pharisees were unwilling to accept Jesus’ testimony about himself. He had no authority in their minds, whereas they regarded themselves as the official interpreters of Moses upon whom the life of the nation had been built. The implication in their argument is that they are vitally connected to the tradition of interpretation of the Mosaic Law and Jesus is not. He, therefore, has never heard God speak. In their use of the term “disciple,” the Pharisees are not altogether different than Socrates (469-399 BCE) who has been called the disciple of Homer. Formally the Pharisees had never met Moses, and Socrates had never met Homer (if the latter ever existed at all), yet through the Law the Pharisees claimed to follow Moses.

7 These schools were developed primarily, but not exclusively, in and around Jerusalem. Classes were held in the synagogue and taught by a scribe or azzan (in poorer communities). The emphasis was on reading the Hebrew Scriptures, as well as learning and memorizing the Torah. Secondary schools seemed to have developed by the second century. They focused more on learning oral law, i.e., the traditions of interpretations. See Everett Ferguson, Backgrounds of Early Christianity, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), 102-103.

8 See D. F. Watson, “Education: Jewish and Greco-Roman,” in Dictionary of New Testament Background, ed. Craig A. Evans and Stanley E. Porter (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2000), 308-313; Emil Schürer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, revised and edited by Geza Vermes, Fergus Millar and Matthew Black (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1979), 415-22.

9 Often using the Torah and entire Old Testament.

10 See William L. Lane, Mark, in The New International Commentary on the New Testament, ed. F. F. Bruce (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974), 371-73.

11 Recall too that this call comes ultimately in the context of Jesus’ proclamation of the advent of the kingdom of God. Thus the call to discipleship comes in the context of the expansion of the kingdom as directed by the Lord.

12 D. A. Carson, “Matthew,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 8 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), 594-99. There may be an allusion to Daniel 7:14 in this text. See Ulrich Luz, The Theology of the Gospel of Matthew, New Testament Theology, trans. J. Bradford Robinson, ed. James D. G. Dunn (Cambridge: CUP, 1995), 138-41.

Ad Category: 
Biblical Topics: 

3. Understanding The Theological Context of Biblical Discipleship

We saw in the first lecture that being a disciple of Christ involves being called to be with him and to know him, as well as to follow him, and to make disciples of other people. Now, it is reasonable to ask for a broader context for this duty. Where does it fit in God’s overall plan? In the next two lectures we will look at the broader theological and relational contexts for Christ’s call to discipleship. It is crucial to understand this so that when times get tough—and they will—we do not get unnecessarily confused and disheartened about God’s work in our lives and in the world. You will need to spend time teaching your disciples this. Like you and me, they too need to understand and believe it.

IA. Theological Context: The Plan of God—”A People for His Name”

1B. The Progress of the Kingdom of God and Discipleship

1C. Abrahamic Covenant

The point of mentioning the Abrahamic covenant here is that it demonstrates that God’s plan centers on blessing people; that’s what He’s about. That’s what discipleship is all about. It involves blessing people with intentionality.

God promised Abraham many wonderful things, including (1) seed (a nation to come from his loins); (2) a land to live in; (3) the personal blessing of an esteemed name and reputation, and (4) universal blessing (i.e., blessing to the entire world through Abraham). Thus, from the very beginning of creation God’s plan has been to bless people. His choice of Abraham reveals the personal and universal nature of that plan.

Genesis 12:1 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go out from your country, your relatives, and your father’s household to the land that I will show you. 12:2 Then I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great, in order that you might be a prime example of divine blessing. 12:3 I will bless those who bless you, but the one who treats you lightly I must curse, and all the families of the earth will be blessed through you.”

The Abrahamic covenant prepares us for all God’s future dealings with people, setting forth in seedbed form the foundation of the Davidic and New covenants, as we shall see. Before we look at them, however, and how they relate to the Abrahamic covenant, the Davidic covenant, and discipleship, we need to say a brief word about the Mosaic Law.

2C. The Mosaic Covenant

Some time after God had given Abraham and his posterity the Abrahamic covenant, he established the Law in Israel through Moses. It is important to note that to be in relationship with God, through his grace, implies that we live a certain way (e.g., Titus 2:1-15, esp. vv. 11-12). We cannot live any way we please and at the same time claim to know God (Titus 1:16). Our lives betray the lie. So, in keeping with his eternal holiness, God in his grace revealed the Law to Moses so that the children of Israel might understand what it means to walk with and live for God. The Law did not give them a relationship with God, but was rather given to them because they were in relationship with God—the God who had redeemed them from Egypt. All its ceremonial and social orientations were temporary until the sacrifice of Christ and it itself—as a whole—points to Christ (Rom 3:21; Gal 3:23-25). The holy standards of the law are still in effect though interpreted and applied by our Lord and his apostles in light of the new covenant (Matt 5:18-20; Rom 8:3-4; 13:8-10). For example, the demand to “have no other Gods before me,” as spoken in Exodus 20:3, and the prohibition against idolatry (Exodus 20:4) are applied in discipleship in terms of the Lordship of Christ and the exclusive worship due to Him alone. We saw in lecture one that we, as adherents of our Lord, are to cling to Him and follow him only. We are not to chase after other gods. We do not have to sacrifice goats, lambs, etc. nor are we to separate from people on an ethnic basis, but we are to live holy lives to the Lord. We are not to steal, lie, covet, murder, commit adultery, or misuse the name of the Lord.

1D. Deuteronomy 4:12-13

4:13 And he revealed to you the covenant he has commanded you to keep, the ten commandments, writing them on two stone tablets. 4:14 Moreover, at that same time the Lord commanded me to teach you statutes and ordinances for you to keep in the land to which you are going as your inheritance.

2D. Galatians 3:21-25

3:21 Is the law therefore opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that was able to give life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. 3:22 But the scripture imprisoned everything and everyone under sin so that the promise could be given—because of the faithfulness of Jesus Christ—to those who believe. 3:23 Now before faith came we were held in custody under the law, being kept as prisoners until the coming faith would be revealed. 3:24 Thus the law had become our guardian until Christ, so that we could be declared righteous by faith. 3:25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.

3D. Hebrews 8:13

When he speaks of a new covenant, he makes the first obsolete. Now what is growing obsolete and aging is about to disappear.

4D. Romans 8:3-4

For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened , God did by sending his own son in the likeness of sinful man to be s sinful offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according tot he sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

5D. Romans 13:8-10

13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 13:9 For the commandments, “do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet,” (and if there is any other commandment) are summed up in this, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 13:10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

3C. The Davidic Covenant

The promise given to David concerns seed, the guarantee of a throne, and the promise that a house/temple would be built for Yahweh. Thus the Davidic covenant is really an expansion and development of the Abrahamic covenant, in particular, the seed aspect. It guarantees that the blessing God promised to the world will always be available through His chosen or anointed king. The question is, will the people be able to receive it? The Jeremiah or New covenant answers that question.

1D. 2 Samuel 7:12-13, 16

7:12 When the time comes for you to die, I will raise up your descendant, one of your own sons, to succeed you, and I will establish his kingdom. 7:13 He will build a house for my name, and I will make his dynasty permanent7:16 Your house and your kingdom will stand before me permanently; your dynasty will be permanent.”

2D. Psalm 89:29

I will give him an eternal dynasty, and make his throne as enduring as the skies above.

3D. Acts 13:32-33

13:32 And we proclaim to you the good news about the promise to our ancestors, 13:33 that this promise God has fulfilled to us, their children, by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second psalm, ‘You are my Son; today I have fathered you.’

4C. The New Covenant

The Israelites, and all men by extension (cf. Romans 3:19-20), are completely unable to keep God’s holy Law. The Mosaic covenant did not answer the question of sin once and for all. Therefore, God established a new and different covenant with his people. In this covenant, often referred to as the new covenant, God promises to do several things, including forgive sin, write his law on the heart of his people, put his Spirit in our hearts, and abide with us as his people forever. This is the way in which he will fulfill his promise to Abraham that he would bless the world through him.

1D. Jeremiah 31:31-34

31:31 “Indeed, a time is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. 31:32 It will not be like the old covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them out of Egypt. For they violated that agreement, even though I was a faithful husband to them,” says the Lord. 31:33 “But I will make a new covenant with the whole nation of Israel after I plant them back in the land,” says the Lord. “I will put my law within them and write it on their hearts and minds. And I will be their God and they will be my people. 31:34 “People will no longer need to teach their neighbors and relatives to know me. That is because all of them, from the least important to the most important, will know me,” says the Lord. “All of this is based on the fact that I will forgive their sin and will no longer call to mind the wrong they have done.”

2D. Ezekiel 26:26-27

36:26 I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; I will remove the heart of stone from your body and give you a heart of flesh. 36:27 I will put my spirit within you, and I will make you walk in my statutes and keep my ordinances, and you will do them.

5C. The Coming of Christ and the Pouring Out of the Spirit at Pentecost: The New Covenant Fulfilled in Inaugural Fashion

The New Testament repeatedly teaches, by explicit statement, allusion, and example, that through Christ—the divinely anointed Davidic Messiah—God has fulfilled the New Covenant in at least an inaugural way and has, once and for all, answered the problem of man’s sin and Satan. Certainly the first coming, with Christ’s death and resurrection, fulfills all the necessary, foundational requirements for the New Covenant. The promised blessings have been instituted though their full realization awaits the millennium and the eternal state. He has found an eternal basis upon which to forgive our sin (i.e., the cross and resurrection), write his law on our heart, and give us the Holy Spirit in a new and powerful way. He has found an eternal basis upon which to bless his people forever. The new covenant does not lower God’s holy standards in any way, nor does it reduce the need for our participation in God’s work. Rather, it calls us to the place where we are forgiven, cleansed, empowered, and sent out with the knowledge of his presence and his constant work in the hearts of other people. By the power of the Spirit we labor with him in the ministry of the gospel and discipleship (1 Cor 3:9-11).

1D. Luke 22:15-20

22:20 And in the same way he took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

2D. Acts 2:1-4, 33

2:1 Now when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2:2 Suddenly a sound like a violent wind blowing came from heaven and filled the entire house where they were sitting. 2:3 And tongues spreading out like a fire appeared to them and came to rest on each one of them. 2:4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them…2:33 So then, exalted to the right hand of God, and having received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, he [Jesus] has poured out what you both see and hear.

3D. 1 Corinthians 3:9-10

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds.

4D. 2 Corinthians 3:5-6

3:5 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as if it were coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, 3:6 who made us adequate to be servants of a new covenant not based on the letter but on the Spirit, for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

6C. The Consummation

The Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, and New Covenants all point in one direction: they affirm the idea that God has always wanted a people for himself, whom he could call his own, love, and bless. His people, on the other hand, have always needed him and desired to know, love, and enjoy their God forever. This thought runs throughout Scripture culminating in its ultimate realization in the eternal state.

1D. Exodus 19:5-6

19:5 And now, if you will diligently obey me and keep my covenant, then you will be my special possession out of all the nations, for all the earth is mine. 19:6 And you will be my kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’

2D. Leviticus 26:12

26:12 I will walk about among you, and I will be your God and you will be my people.

3D. Jeremiah 32:38

32:38 They will be my people, and I will be their God.

4D. Ezekiel 37:27

37:27 My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people.

5D. 2 Corinthians 6:16

6:16 And what mutual agreement does the temple of God have with idols? For we are the temple of the living God, just as God said, “I will live in them and will walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

6D. Revelation 21:3-4

21:3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: “Look! The residence of God is among men and women. He will live among them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will not exist any more—or mourning, or crying, or pain; the former things have ceased to exist.”

2B. The Incarnation and Cross: Kingdom Discipleship in Action

Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, became man and pitched his tent among us (John 1:14). God did not yell from heaven, but rather sent his Son into the world to be with us. He was full of grace and truth and as such he teaches us about love for God and proper relationships with people. Indeed, his greatest act of love involved going to the cross to secure our salvation. He became obedient to the point of suffering death by a cross. Then God highly exalted him and gave him a name that is above every name.

Jesus, then, provides the quintessential pattern of discipleship and its ultimate theological backdrop: humble obedience and service followed by exaltation. Notice the order; first, sacrificial service, then eternal exaltation. It’s not the other way around. Therefore, discipleship is all about love for God and love for people: loving and serving God by sacrificially loving and serving people. The discipler has a servant’s heart for that is what he/she really is!

1C. John 1:14-18—Jesus: God Dwelling with His People

1:14 Now the Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We saw his glory—the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the Father. 1:15 John testified about him and cried out, “This one was the one about whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is greater than I am, because he existed before me.’” 1:16 For we have all received from his fullness one gracious gift after another. 1:17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came about through Jesus Christ. 1:18 No one has ever seen God. The only one, himself God, who is in the presence of the Father, has made God known.

2C. Philippians 2:6-11—The Example of Discipleship

2:6 who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, 2:7 but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. 2:8 He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross! 2:9 As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 2:10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow—in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 2:11 and every tongue confess to the glory of God the Father that Jesus Christ is Lord.

3B. Our Triune God and the Great Commission

In light of New Testament revelation, we now know that it was the Triune God who was at work in the life of Abraham, promising blessing to the ends of the earth. We know that it was He who chose David as His king and the vehicle through which He would bless his people. We also know that it was He who promised his Spirit as the One who would regenerate His people, sanctify them, and equip them for His service. All along it has been the divine community working out His plan for the world. And now we too are called to know the Father, through the Son, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit. The God who promises to bless the ends of the earth is a Trinity and we have come to know him as such. And, it is in His Trinitarian name that we have been commissioned to go out and be His instruments for the fulfillment of his plan of blessing, i.e., the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). We make disciples “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” We are thus sent out to establish a community on earth after the fashion of the divine community in heaven.

IIA. Summary

In the first lecture we focused on understanding what the term “disciple” means and how it relates—in an introductory sort of way—to being a disciple of Christ. But when Christ commanded discipleship from his followers, as he also does today, it is helpful to understand the broad theological context in which he utters that command. It is helpful to know how God’s work today relates to what he has done before and will do in the future.

We saw that discipleship, as God’s plan for the church, is the way he has ordained to bring the blessing promised to Abraham to the world. He has given us a permanent king in the Lord Jesus who has bestowed on us the Spirit. Through the Spirit we are transformed into the image of Christ, grow in our commitment to personal discipleship, and are empowered to love, serve, and disciple others—even the nations.

Thus, understanding the broad theological context will strengthen your personal commitment to discipleship and discipling others. You will go forth in humble confidence, knowing you are right in the middle of God’s will and plan for your life and the world. You will get a clear picture of where you fit in the unfolding of God’s plan to bless the nations. And, learning the theological backdrop for Christ’s call to make disciples of all nations helps you to better understand the Bible, how it relates to your ministry, and how to teach it to others.

Remember, God’s plan of blessing the world is wrapped up in securing a people for himself. As you go and minister to others you contribute to His plans to bless the world and call out of darkness a people for himself.

IIIA. Questions for Thought

1. What were the four Biblical covenants we looked at in this lesson? How do the Davidic and New covenants relate to the Abrahamic?

2. How does the Mosaic covenant relate to the other three covenants?

3. In relation to these covenants, what is the one theme that runs throughout Scripture?

4. How does the Great Commission relate to each of these covenants?

5. Where does the incarnation and cross fit into the covenants we studied and how does it relate to discipleship?

6. How has studying the plan of God throughout Scripture helped you regarding your personal commitment to Christ in discipleship? Your commitment to discipling others?

Ad Category: 
Biblical Topics: 

4. Understanding The Relational Context of Biblical Discipleship

In the first lecture we defined what it means to be a disciple of Christ. We discovered that the idea of discipleship involves understanding both its theological context as well as its relational context. So, in lecture two, we explored the broad theological and scriptural context for Christ’s mandate to make disciples. We learned that from the very beginning it has been God’s plan to secure a people for himself and recreate them in Christ’s image. According to his covenantal promises, he has done just that and continues to do just that today. As we disciple people we participate in his great plan. But there is another context in which to look at this process of discipleship and disciplemaking. It is the relational context. I want to stress relationships because so often this is neglected in favor of stressing the legitimate demands of discipleship. When we stress the demands of discipleship apart from good relationships we often reduce it to nothing more than human effort and following rules. The theological context gives us a mental picture of God’s work, while the relational context unveils the personal orientation of discipleship. Christianity is not primarily an ethic, but a relationship—a relationship with God and with our fellow man.

IA. The Relational Context: The Greatest Commandments

1B. The Greatest Commandments

Mark 12:28 Now one of the experts in the law came and heard them debating. When he saw that Jesus answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 12:29 Jesus answered, “The most important is: ‘Listen, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 12:30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 12:31 The second is: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

2B. Discipleship and Love for God

We have seen in lecture one that Christian discipleship involves the idea of complete and unreserved dedication to Christ, his will, work, and ways. This, of course, is consonant with the Great commandment to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We must put discipleship together with the greatest commandment to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. They are essentially one and the same. Discipleship is a relational affair, from beginning to end. It is not Stoic dedication, or mere commitment to a certain morality—no matter how exalted or sublime. We need to experience Christ firsthand, abide in Him continually, and teach our disciples that this is the essence of the Christian life. In this way they will be somewhat freer to be in a healthier relationship with you—as a discipler; there will be interdependence, not co-dependence. This leads me to the second and closely related commandment.

3B. Discipleship, Different People, and Love for Our Neighbor

The second commandment is related linguistically to the first through the use of the term “love.” Conceptually, however, the first logically gives rise to the second when properly understood and obeyed; those who love God also love their neighbor. You cannot claim to love God and at the same time hate your neighbor. John also relates the two commandments. He says, “For anyone who does not love his brother whom he can see, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (cf. 1 John 4:20). But sometimes it is hard to love people, especially when they’re different in some way from us. What it means to be human has never changed and is the same for all human beings who have ever lived. But, while people are essentially the same, they differ in many ways relating to tastes, habits, ideas, approaches to problems, dispositions, backgrounds, knowledge, etc. The discipler must appreciate this, realizing that God has called him/her to love all men and to allow them sanctified differences.

Therefore, the goal in discipleship is not uniformity, but rather conformity to the image of Christ and harmony in the body of Christ. It involves a lively, redeemed diversity, not a dead, monolithic sameness. The gospel does not confine, per se; it liberates people, to feel, think, and act along Christ-like lines. Just as there is diversity and unity in the Godhead, so there should be diversity and unity among those who claim to belong to this God. Please appreciate this, but do not think, therefore, because people are different in many ways, that some can be discipled and some cannot. All can and must be his disciples.

1C. Relationships with Brothers and Sisters in the Christian Community
1D. Seek Unity—Ephesians 4:1-6

4:1 I, therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live worthily of the calling with which you have been called, 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 4:3 making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you too were called to the one hope of your calling, 4:5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 4:6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

In the letter to the Ephesians the apostle is thinking, not just about the church in Ephesus, but the worldwide church, or the church universal. He thinks of the churches in Rome, throughout Asia Minor, Palestine, etc. as really comprising one church, not many disparate churches.

A good disciplemaker humbly recognizes that he is part of Christ’s body. He strives to maintain unity in the body and encourages his disciples to that end. He is not off, over in a corner somewhere, “doing his own thing” and criticizing the rest of the body. Rather, he seeks to live out the unity produced by the Spirit. He is trying to develop disciples who contribute to unity, peace, and the growth of the body rather than those who tear it apart. There is no room for evil competition in the process of making disciples (cf. Phil 2:3-4).

2D. Celebrate Diversity—Ephesians 4:7

4:7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of the gift of Christ… 4:11 It was he who gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 4:12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ…

In the midst of striving for unity and peace in the body of Christ, comes the corresponding need to recognize the natural and Spirit sponsored differences that exist among the people of God. The Palestinian Christians had a different outlook from the Asian Christians. This is readably discernible from the pages of the New Testament (cf. Acts 15). We must realize that people are different and come to the table with different perspectives. Someone with the gift of mercy discipling another with the gift of administration will need to recognize and appreciate the differences if they are to be successful together. This, of course, does not involve condoning obvious or blatant sin, but people’s gifts, temperaments, and abilities all affect their learning of discipleship. Give them room to grow.

3D. Celebrate Diversity—1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 11

12:4 Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. 12:5 And there are different ministries, but the same Lord. 12:6 And there are different results, but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. 12:7 To each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the benefit of all… 12:11 It is one and the same Spirit, distributing to each person as he decides, who produces all these things.

We will talk later about the relationship of the gifts to discipleship, but again, suffice it to say here that people and their Spirit given gifts come in all shapes and sizes. But it is important to note that a person’s gift(s) has been given to them by the Spirit for the common good. Whether we appreciate them or not, the Spirit has gifted them for our good. We need to remember that. So, just as there is diversity in the God-head, so there will be diversity in any community he establishes. But this is for the growth of the community.

4D. The Twelve Apostles

Jesus chose twelve very diverse men. I wonder how Matthew and Simon got along? The former was a tax-collector, the latter, probably a zealot. Peter was headstrong and daring, Thomas was probably strong at times, but could be quite reserved and doubting. Some, like James and Thaddaeus, may have frustrated Peter’s compulsive tendencies with their willingness to fade into the background and apparently do little. Then there was Judas, whose cunning deceit allowed his growing greed to go undetected by everyone (except Jesus) until the very end. Further, in Marks’s gospel, the disciples are not pictured in a favorable light, never really understanding what Jesus was about. They were a diverse and difficult lot, to say the least. Yet Jesus could rally them together for ministry. Try that on for size.

2C. Relationships with People in the Larger Non-Christian Community

Jesus called twelve men to come and follow him. He promised that he would make them “fishers of men.” Thus, the call on their lives was lived out in the context of a mission to the lost. Our discipling of other people should also be done in the context of a ministry to the lost. We are to help our people live as light in a dark world—upright and loving in a fallen and ugly world—and as those committed to manifesting the glory of their Father in heaven, by perseverance in works. Generally speaking, and there are exceptions, our disciples are to maintain their relationships with their pre-conversion friends who do not know the Lord (in the hope of loving them and leading them to Christ).

1D. Matthew 4:19

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”

2D. Matthew 5:13-16

5:13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its flavor, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled on by people. 5:14 You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill cannot be hidden. 5:15 People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven.

3D. Colossians 4:5-6

4:5 Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunities. 4:6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer everyone.

4D. Titus 3:8

This saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on such truths, so that those who have placed their faith in God may be intent on engaging in good works. These things are good and beneficial for all people.

IIA. Summary

So discipleship involves being unreservedly committed to Christ. It is lived out in the context of a relationship with God and with our fellow man. Understanding this is key to growing as a disciple and discipling others as well. The process of discipleship is not like making hamburgers at McDonalds; we are not trying to make each person the same. Rather, we value and appreciate the differences people bring to the process and we celebrate God-ordained uniqueness. In saying this, however, we are not encouraging sinful habits which clearly violate the standard of holiness laid out for us in His Word and bring swift division into Christ’s body. But we are, instead, attempting to produce genuine unity in a context of a rich and necessary diversity.

We will try to flesh this principle out in all that remains in this course; we will keep the following material relationally oriented. Relationships are key. They are the ambience in which all the formal training of another disciple takes place. If relationships are strained, your effectiveness as a discipler is minimized.

IIIA. Questions for Thought

1. Why is it important when talking about discipleship and discipling another to keep in mind the primacy of relationships over tasks, no matter how beneficial and necessary the tasks are? At what point do you decide that a task must be done whether another person agrees or not?

2. How will you approach your disciple(s) when they do certain things that irritate you or don’t do certain things the way you taught them or the way you think they should be done (e.g., prayer)?

3. Take some time to meditate on Ephesians 4:1-6 and 1 Cor 12:4-7. What are some principles the Lord has impressed on you as you worked your way through these important passages?

4. When we think about discipleship, we often think primarily of one person helping another person. And this is good. But, according to Ephesians 4:1-6 and 1 Corinthians 12:4-7, what is the larger context in which we experience discipleship? How important is this larger context? (cf. 2 Tim 2:2)

5. How important do you think it is to consistently have your disciples relate well to the rest of the body of Christ? How will you help them if they are struggling in their relationships with other Christians?

6. Discipleship not only entails relating to Christians in the church, but also Christians relating to those in the world (We will talk about the Christian’s relationship to the world more in later lectures). According to Matthew 5:16 and Titus 3:8 what is key in our relationship to our friends in the world?

7. According to Matthew 5:13-15, what does it mean to be the salt of the earth? The light of the world?

8. In Colossians 4:5-6 Paul talks about relating to those in the world. What do you think it means to conduct yourself with wisdom toward outsiders? To make the most of every opportunity? Why is our speech so important?

Ad Category: 
Biblical Topics: 

5. Beliefs Leading to Christlikeness—Basic Theology

IA. Basic Theology: A Biblical Framework for Christlikeness

1B. God

The God of the Bible is the infinitely majestic, wise, sovereign and free Creator of the universe. He stands outside creation, yet upholds its very existence. He is not bound to it, but presides over it and carries it along to His appointed ends. He has deliberately chosen to sustain an intimate relation with all that goes on in His world. He is holy and loving toward all he has made. He is righteous and faithful in his dealings with us and, as a Father pities his children, so he is infinitely gracious toward us. He exists as one God, yet subsists as three eternal, separate persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is the God who has summoned us to his side and who has called us to serve him in the joy and struggle of making disciples of all nations. This is the God we encourage people to worship, adore, reverence, imitate, preach, and follow, and this is the God with whom we will someday make our permanent home (Rev 21:3-4).

1C. Genesis 1:1

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

2C. Jeremiah 32:17

Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.

3C. Hebrews 1:3

The Son is the radiance of his glory and the representation of his essence, and he sustains all things by his powerful word, and so when he had accomplished cleansing for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

4C. Ephesians 1:11

In Christ we too have been claimed as God’s own possession, since we were predestined according to the one purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will.

5C. 1 Peter 1:15-16

1;15 but, like the Holy One who called you, become holy yourselves in all of your conduct, 1:16 for it is written, “You shall be holy, because I am holy.”

6C. 1 John 4:10

In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

7C. Psalm 86:15

But you, O sovereign Master, are a compassionate and merciful God. You are slow to anger, abounding in loyal love and faithfulness.

8C. 2 Corinthians 13:13 (14)

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

2B. The Bible

The Bible is the Word of God revealed through the words of men. Therefore, it is our final authority in matters of faith and life and forms the foundation upon which a discipling relationship can take place. We are not primarily calling people to our own opinions of God and life, but rather to the truth of Scripture which is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21). The function of Scripture as God’s word to us, is, therefore, in keeping with our call to holiness and orients us in helping others to that end (2 Cor 7:1). Thus it is one of the key tools in disciplemaking. As the very words of God it should not play a peripheral role, but must be given central importance.

1C. Deuteronomy 29:29

The secret things belong to the Lord our God but those that are revealed belong to us and our descendants forever and are shown to us so that we might obey all the words of this law.

2C. Isaiah 66:2

This is the one I [the Lord] show regard for: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and who trembles at my word.

3C. Psalm 119:9-11

119:9 How can a young person maintain a pure lifestyle? By following (לִשְׁמֹר) your words! 119:10 With all my heart I seek you. Do not allow me to stray from your commands! 119:11 In my heart I store up your words, so that I might not sin against you.

4C. Matthew 4:4
But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
5C. Matthew 22:29

Jesus answered them, “You are deceived, because you don’t know the scriptures (τὰς γραφὰς) or the power of God (τὴν δύναμιν τοῦ θεοῦ).

6C. 1 Thessalonians 2:13

And so we too constantly thank God that when you received God’s message that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human message, but as it truly is, God’s message, that is at work (ἐνεργεῖται) among you who believe.

7C. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

3:16 Every [all] scripture is inspired by God (θεόπνευστος) and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 3:17 so that (ἵνα) the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work.

8C. 2 Peter 1:20-21

1:20 Above all, you do well if you recognize this: no prophecy of scripture ever comes about by the prophet’s own imagination, 1:21 for no prophecy was ever borne of human impulse; rather, men carried along (φερόμενοι) by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

3B. Man

Man was created by God in his image, according to his likeness (Gen 1:26-27). This means that he is like God in many ways. He can reason, feel, act, enter relationships, be holy, take dominion of the earth, etc. It also accounts for a lot of the diversity we see among people. But men are also fallen sinners whose tendency to rebellion, self-centeredness, and evil is great. Thus, we are, at present anyway, “a glorious ruin” in the process of restoration.

The image of God, however, was not totally erased in the Fall, but rather it was seriously effaced (cf. James 3:9). In light of this, a disciplemaker needs to keep two things in mind: First, since all people were created by God and remain in his image, even after the fall, all people are valuable to Him (cf. Mark 12:13-17). Thus, all people, irrespective of sin’s grip on their lives, possess dignity. We cannot pick and choose who’s more valuable, yet people will often select themselves for further training and discipleship. Second, people are deceitful and we must be aware of this in the process of discipling others. All people are depraved, including the one discipling another, as well as the one being discipled. The word, prayer, humility, self-examination, and above all, love, must be integral to every relationship in which we engage. This is why discipleship must also take place in the context of a larger, deeply integrated, church community.

1C. Genesis 1:26-27

1:26 Then God said, “Let us make (עשׂה) mankind in our image (צֶלֶם), after our likeness (דְּמוּת), so they may rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move on the earth.” 1:27 So God created (בּרא) mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created (בּרא) them, male and female he created them.

2C. Psalm 8:-6

8:4 I think, “Of what importance is the human race, that you should notice them? Of what importance is mankind, that you should pay attention to them, 8:5 and make them almost like the heavenly beings?” You grant mankind honor and majesty; 8:6 you allow them to rule over your creation; you have placed everything under their authority…

3C. Romans 3:10-18

3:10 just as it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one, 3:11 there is no one who understands, there is no one who seeks God. 3:12 All have turned away, together they have become worthless; there is no one who shows kindness, not even one.” 3:13 “Their throats are open graves, they deceive with their tongues, the poison of asps is under their lips.” 3:14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” 3:15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood, 3:16 ruin and misery are in their paths, 3:17 and the way of peace they have not known.” 3:18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

4C. 1 John 3:4

3:4 Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; indeed, sin is lawlessness.

5C. Mark 12:15-17

12:15 But he saw through their hypocrisy and said to them, “Why are you testing me? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” 12:16 So they brought one, and he said to them, “Whose likeness (εἰκὼν) is this, and whose inscription?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” 12:17 Then Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were utterly amazed at him.

6C. James 3:9

3:9 With it we bless the Lord and Father and with it we curse people made in God’s image (ὁμοίωσιν).

IIA. Summary

The person desiring to grow in Christlikeness needs to prayerfully dwell on, nourish, and cultivate beliefs that give rise to Christlikeness. He/she needs a Biblical framework in which to understand God, man, sin, the Bible, salvation, church, etc. Such was the point of this lecture. In this lecture we touched on the nature of God and his sovereign control of all things as well the importance of the Bible in discipleship. We also looked briefly at how we are to understand man before and after the fall. These are important ideas in building a Christian worldview and every disciplemaker should have them coursing through her/his veins.

IIIA. Questions for Thought

1. As a disciplemaker, why is it important to believe that God is in control of all things? See Romans 8:28. Then read 8:29-30. Notice the connection between events and God’s plan in our lives.

2. Why is it crucial, when you’re helping people through their struggles, to know that God is both loving, patient, and gracious, as well as holy and righteous?

3. What place should the Bible have in helping others grow in the imitation of Christ? What should happen when two people disagree on the interpretation of a Biblical passage?

4. How does 1 Thess 2:13 help us understand the role of the Bible in making disciples?

5. What is the significance for us today of the fact that man has been created in God’s image and still, after the fall, retains that image?

6. Theologically speaking, according to Mark 12:17-19, who owns the image of God? What implications does this have for discipleship?

7. What implications does the fact that man is a sinner have for a discipling relationship? How can specific sins affect all people involved? See Romans 3:10-18.

6. Beliefs Leading to Christlikeness—Basic Theology (cont’d)

IA. Basic Theology: A Biblical Framework for Christlikeness

1B. Salvation

Salvation, broadly conceived, is a Trinitarian work. The Father chose certain ones in eternity past, the Son died for them, and the Holy Spirit now personally applies the benefits of Christ’s death to those whom the Father has chosen (Eph 1:3-14). Salvation, therefore, involves being brought from sin, death, and certain judgment, into mercy, grace, and an eternal relationship with God through the Son in the power and personalized ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is totally and completely a work of God’s grace from beginning to end. His wrath is satiated in the death of His Son and he is free to love and embrace the sinner, justifying him/her according to Christ’s atoning merits and not by any works, religious or otherwise, done by the sinner. The human response to what God has done is called conversion, where the sinner repents from sin and turns to God in faith. Even this decision—since all men are dead in sin and cannot under their own guidance or locomotion turn in repentance to God—is motivated, guided, and brought to fruition by the convicting and regenerating work of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5).

To the disciplemaker there is no greater message in all the universe. There is joy in meditating on God’s gracious saving work in Christ and we are blessed when we emphasize this truth to those we disciple; we are wise to encourage them to prayerfully think long and hard about it as well. Conversely, we invite God’s judgment should we depart or teach others to depart from the message of his grace (Gal 1:6ff).

Finally, the work of salvation is both a past, present, and future work: We were saved, are being saved, and someday will be saved. What we mean is that when we were received by the Father at conversion, we were declared free from the penalty of sin. At the present time in our Christian experience we are being set free from the power of sin, and someday, when we join our great God in eternal bliss, we will be free from even the presence of sin. When the future becomes the present we will know God in ways we can only dream of now (1 Cor 2:9). It may be winter now, but Christmas is coming!

The present experience of our Christian life is called sanctification; we are being progressively transformed into to the image of Christ, in the here and now. The process is carried on by the Spirit (2 Cor 3:18) and our responsibility is to cooperate with the Spirit in his work. This is an exciting prospect for it means that we can count on the Spirit, as did the apostle Paul, when we’re working with people. He will lead them into the truth and into the life of discipleship. We are to co-labor with Him as He works out his plan in the life of each believer.

Let’s turn now to get the big picture of the doctrine of salvation.

1C. The Panorama of the Plan

The plan of God to save people began in eternity past, is carried out in history, and will someday culminate in glorification for believers. Romans 8:30 gives us this panoramic view of salvation throughout eternity and time.

Romans 8:30 And those God predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified.

2C. Unconditional Election (predestination)

The doctrine of unconditional election refers to God’s sovereign and free choice—in eternity past and according to his good pleasure—of certain persons to salvation and eternal glory on the basis of no foreseen merit in them. The end result is that they should praise him for his condescension, mercy, and power.

Ephesians 1:4 For he lovingly chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight.

3C. Effective or Special Calling

Special calling refers to an act of God the Father whereby he efficaciously summons people to himself through the human proclamation of the gospel. It is 100% effective with respect to those whom the Father has chosen for salvation. Those whom he has not chosen hear the gospel with their ears, perhaps, but it is accompanied by no internal conviction wrought by the Spirit. They cannot understand or “welcome” that which is being taught to them (1 Cor 2:14).

1 Corinthians 1:9 God, who has called us into fellowship with His son Jesus Christ our Lord is faithful.

4C. Regeneration—Titus 3:5

Regeneration is a secret act of God—and done totally by him—whereby he implants spiritual life in us.

Titus 3:5 He saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit…

5C. Repentance—Luke 24:46-47

Biblical repentance involves an understanding of the “wrongness” of my sin, an emotional sorrow for it, and a turning from it with the conviction never to return, but instead to submit to the Lordship of Christ (Luke 24:46-47; Acts 3:19; 5:39; 17:30). It is a process that continues throughout all of my Christian life (Rev 3:19).

Luke 24:46 “Thus it stands written that the Messiah would suffer and would rise from the dead on the third day, 24:47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

6C. Faith—John 3:16

Biblical faith involves three related elements: knowledge, agreement, and personal trust. We must understand the gospel, agree with it, and personally trust in Christ. Anything short of this is not genuine or saving faith. As far as it depends upon us, we ought to ensure that those whom we disciple understand what faith is, not confusing it with mere assent to a creed, or attendance at a certain kind of church. Rather, we want our folks to understand that they must personally commit themselves to Christ himself, having understood his promise of pardoning all who come. As with repentance, so also faith must be exercised and continue to grow our whole lives (Heb 11:6).

John 3:16 For this is the way God loved the world: he gave his one and only Son that everyone who believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

7C. Union with Christ

Union with Christ is a favorite expression used by the apostle Paul to describe the many facets of our relationship to Christ and the blessings we have received as a result of being chosen “in Him” (Eph 1:3-4). It relates to our new sphere of existence “in Him” where righteousness, life, and peace reign and is to be seen over against our old mode of existence in Adam where sin, death, and judgment went unchecked (Rom 6:1-11). We now live, move, and breathe in Christ and he lives in us through his Holy Spirit (John 14:23; 15:26; Rom 8:9).

Ephesians 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, 2:5 even though we were dead in transgressions, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you are saved!—2:6 and he raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,

8C. Justification—Romans 5:1

Justification is an instantaneous legal act of God in which he (1) thinks of our sins as forgiven and Christ’s righteousness as belonging to us, and (2) declares us legally righteous in his sight.13

3:21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God (which is attested by the law and the prophets) has been disclosed—3:22 namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. 3:24 But they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

9C. Adoption

Adoption is the act whereby God, having chose us in Christ and justified us by faith—even when we were by nature children of wrath—now considers us as one of his family. This includes privileges of access to God, his loving fatherly presence and help, his discipline for sin and his “presence in blessing” throughout eternity.

Galatians 4:4 But when the appropriate time had come, God sent out his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 4:5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we may be adopted as sons with full rights. 4:6 And because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, who calls “Abba! Father!” 4:7 So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if you are a son, then you are also an heir through God.

10C. Sanctification

Sanctification is the ongoing process of being progressively set free from sin and living to God’s glory in greater degrees of Christlikeness. It refers to growing in holiness and therefore intimacy with, and usefulness to, the Lord (cf. 2 Tim 2:20-21). There are three stages to sanctification. Positional, which occurs at the moment of salvation (involving justification); practical which is ongoing until death, and perfect (glorification), which occurs at death (1 Cor 6:11; Acts 20:32; Rom 6:12-13; 2 Cor 7:1; 1 Thess 5:23; Heb 12:14).

Philippians 2:12 So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, continue working out your salvation with awe and reverence, 2:13 for the one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort—for the sake of his good pleasure—is God.

11C. Perseverance—John 10:28-30

The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints means that all those who are truly believers and indwelt by the Spirit of God will by God’s power persevere in the Christian life until their death and that only those who do persevere are truly born again.

John 10:28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish; no one will snatch them from my hand. 10:29 My Father who has given them to me is greater than all, and no one can snatch them from my Father’s hand. 10:30 The Father and I are one.”

12C. Glorification—Romans 8:23

Glorification is the final step in the outworking of God’s plan of saving us in which, at his coming, he gives us (every saint who has ever lived) our resurrected bodies and we are like him in untainted holiness (1 John 3:2-3).

8:23 Not only this, but we ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we eagerly await our adoption, the redemption of our bodies.

2B. The Church

The one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church is the community of those who are saved according to the gracious purposes of the Father, through the merits of Son and His work, in the power and personal ministry of the Spirit. The church is holy in that it possesses the Holy Spirit and human in that it is made up of redeemed human beings. Thus there are many local churches, but there is one universal or catholic church which can flow into any culture, yet at the same time stand opposed to the those elements in culture that repudiate God. The church is apostolic in that it stands on, and adheres to, the inscripturated apostolic interpretation of Christ and his work and also in the sense that it is sent into the world as witness to God’s saving work. In general, there are numerous metaphors in scripture which describe the church. It is known as the body of Christ, the bride of Christ, the Vine and the branches, Shepherd and the flock, cornerstone and the building, a holy priesthood, a father and his family, etc.

The church comes into existence through the preaching of the gospel and God’s calling of people from darkness to light (Col 1:7, 13-14). The church is His idea and he will ensure her victory over all the forces of evil. Indeed, the gates of hell will not overcome her. Though the church is not the kingdom of God, the kingdom of God, i.e., God’s kingly reign, gives rise to the church and the church in turn witnesses to the power and glory of that kingdom.

1C. A People from All Nations—Romans 9:23-26

9:23 And what if he is willing to make known the wealth of his glory on the objects of mercy that he has prepared beforehand for glory— 9:24 even us, whom he has called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 9:25 As he also says in Hosea: “I will call those who were not my people, ‘My people,’ and I will call her who was unloved, ‘My beloved.’” 9:26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”

2C. Baptized into One Body—1 Corinthians 12:13

For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. Whether we are Jews or Greeks or slaves or free we were all made to drink of the one Spirit.

3C. Gifting for Ministry—Ephesians 4:11-12

4:11 It was he who gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 4:12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ…

4C. Baptism—Acts 10:48

10:48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

5C. The Lord’s Supper—1 Corinthians 11:23-25

11:23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took bread, 11:24 and after he had given thanks he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 11:25 In the same way, he also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, every time you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

6C. The Worship of God—Romans 12:1

12:1 Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice—alive, holy, and pleasing to God—which is your spiritual act of worship.

7C. Mission to the World—Acts 1:8

1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth.”

3B. The Enemy

1C. Christ, the Cross, and Satan’s Demise—John 12:31

12:31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out.

2C. The Devil’s Works: Destroyed—1 John 3:8

3:8 The one who practices sin is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was revealed: to destroy the works of the devil.

3C. Spiritual Warfare—Ephesians 6:12-18

6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. 6:13 For this reason, take up the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand your ground on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand. 6:14 Stand firm therefore, by fastening the belt of truth around your waist, by putting on the breastplate of righteousness, 6:15 by fitting your feet with the preparation that comes from the good news of peace, 6:16 and in all of this, by taking up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 6:18 With every prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and to this end be alert, with all perseverance and requests for all the saints.

4C. Be Prepared for Battle—1 Peter 5:8

5:8 Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour. 5:9 Resist him, strong in your faith…

5C. Resist the Devil and Draw Near to God—James 4:7-8

4:7 So submit to God. But resist the devil and he will flee from you. 4:8 Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and make your hearts pure, you double-minded.

4B. The End

1C. Personal Eschatology
1D. Death for All

Hebrews 9:27 And just as people are appointed to die once, and then to face judgment…

2D. The Intermediate State

2 Corinthians 5:8 Thus we (i.e., Christians) are full of courage and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

The intermediate state for unbelievers, i.e., what happens to them after death, seems to involve conscious punishment in Hades where they await a future, bodily resurrection to eternal punishment in Hell, the final place of the Devil, his angels, and the wicked (Matthew 25:41; Luke 16:19-31; 2 Thess 1:8-9).

2C. Corporate Eschatology
1D. The Second Coming

Acts 1:11 “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking up into the sky? This same Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will come back in the same way you saw him go into heaven.”

Matthew 24:30 “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

2D. Resurrection for All

John 5:28 “Do not be amazed at this, because a time is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 5:29 and will come out—the ones who have done what is good to the resurrection resulting in life, and the ones who have done what is evil to the resurrection resulting in condemnation.

3D. Judgment for All: Eternal Consequences

Matthew 25:31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 25:32 All the nations will be assembled before him, and he will separate people one from another like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 25:33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 25:34 Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world… 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels! …25:46 And these will depart into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

4D. The Millennium

Revelation 20:4 …They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 20:5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were finished.) This is the first resurrection. 20:6 Blessed and holy is the one who takes part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

5D. The Eternal State

Revelation 21:3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: “Look! The residence of God is among men and women. He will live among them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will not exist any more—or mourning, or crying, or pain; the former things have ceased to exist.”

IIA. Summary

In lectures four and five we dealt with some basic beliefs and doctrinal knowledge each disciplemaker and disciple should possess. We started with our understanding of God and then moved to the Bible and Man. In this lecture we discussed Salvation, the Church, Spiritual Warfare, and End Times. It is important to possess this Biblical or Christian “worldview” because our goal is not to make disciples that look like us, per se, but those who look, feel, and act like Christ. These are truths by which we can evaluate our practice of discipleship. For example, if we realize that in our discipleship plan we are simply not using Scripture very much or helping our friends “get into” the Bible in a responsible and meaningful way, then to that degree we are falling short, as it were, of Christ’s standard for us (Matt 13:52; Acts 2:42). We know that we must do something about that. Or, if someone feels that involvement with other Christians, i.e. church, is not that important, we can see from this brief Biblical overview that such reasoning is not from the Lord and therefore not correct or helpful.. With patience and love we can confidently move them in the direction of thinking about their need for fellowship, both to receive from others and to contribute to others’ lives.

IIIA. Questions for Thought

1. Do you see the train of thought in the section on salvation? Why is it important to have this “bird’s eye-view” of God’s plan of salvation? Why would Paul tell us that?

2. How does “justification” help with feelings of insecurity and unbelief regarding the struggle that God can use you? How do the other areas of salvation relate to discipleship?

3. We will deal with the doctrine of the spiritual life in the next couple of lectures. For the meantime, however, how does the doctrine of perseverance relate to discipleship?

4. How do spiritual gifts relate to discipling another? What if the person you’re helping is spiritually gifted in an area in which you as a disciplemaker are not?

5. How does the Devil relate to the task of making disciples?

6. How will you help your disciples get a balanced, biblical, and spiritually realistic view in this area?

7. Someday we will all die. How does this relate to discipleship and helping others to love God and people? What about rewards?

13 Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 723.

Ad Category: 

7. Beliefs Leading to Christlikeness—The Spiritual Life

IA. Theological Synthesis of the Spiritual Life: Growth in Christlikeness/Holiness14

In chapters one through three we learned what a disciple is, the theological context for discipleship (i.e., God’s plan to bless the world), as well as the importance of understanding the relational context of discipleship. In short, we said that a disciplemaker is a committed follower of Jesus Christ who loves other people by bringing God’s truth and blessing to them; he/she, by the power of Spirit, models Christ and helps others to do the same in their own lives, contexts, and relationships.

In chapters four and five we outlined a basic, Biblical worldview that can be used to evaluate your discipleship relationships, goals, and strategies. In chapters six and seven we are going to deepen our understanding of the theology of the spiritual life; we are going to focus on the area of sanctification. What we said by way of brief introduction in chapter five, we are now going to flesh out somewhat. There is perhaps no more confusion in any area of the Christian experience than our thinking about how a person grows spiritually once they become a Christian. There are many voices, but no consensus.

We hope to bring together several strands of Biblical teaching and put them together in a coherent whole that is biblically accurate, realistic, and hopeful. It is crucial that we understand this doctrine from the beginning: (1) so that we can live it out; and (2) so that we pass on a Biblical model in this area. We do people a great deal of disservice when we pass on either an unrealistic or watered down version of the Bible’s teaching concerning sanctification. A great deal of time in your discipling relationships will be spent on this issue. Your disciples need to understand God’s truth here, and you need to teach them. So let’s dig in.

1B. The Ground and Goal of the Spiritual Life

The Spiritual life has to be seen within the larger context of God’s work in creation and redemption. We have been created in God’s image and salvation is designed to recreate that image; it is designed by God to conform us to the image of Christ (Rom 8:28-29). Therefore, our election, calling, justification, regeneration, spiritual growth, and glorification are all preplanned to move us in that direction. Thus the unshakeable ground upon which the spiritual life is built is the unconditional election, calling and justification of God. We have been permanently adopted into his family and now he moves in us, initiating, prodding, strengthening, and carrying on his work of making us look like a real family member, i.e., like His Son. We have been called to Christlikeness and that’s the same thing as saying that we have been chosen, called, and destined for holiness. Any teaching on the spiritual life that does not have this as the focus is errant for it is not in keeping with our election, calling, the work of the Spirit, and our glorification. To the degree that any strategy for discipleship does not place this at the center, is to that degree quenching the Spirit of God.

2B. The Nature of Holiness: Personal Transformation through Consecration

The nature of holiness is spiritual and moral transformation that comes from dedication or consecration to God. He has sanctified us, made us acceptable to him and set us apart for his use. We, for our part, sanctify ourselves through confession and a Spirit-inspired determination to trust and obey Him.

1C. Positional Sanctification

1 Corinthians 6:11 Some of you once lived this way. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

2C. Determined Effort and the Initiating Work of God

Philippians 2:12-13 So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, continue working out your salvation with awe and reverence, 2:13 for the one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort—for the sake of his good pleasure—is God. See my commentary on this passage on the website (www.bible.org )

3C. The Result: Sanctification

Romans 6:22 But now, freed from sin and enslaved to God, you have your benefit leading to sanctification, and the end is eternal life.

2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Romans 12:1 Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice—alive, holy, and pleasing to God—which is your reasonable service. 12:2 Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God—what is good and well-pleasing and perfect.

3B. The Context of Holiness: Justification

The context of sanctification is justification—the forgiveness of sin and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. Through faith in Christ we have been legally declared righteous. We are not working for grace, but from grace. We are not striving to attain standing before the Judge of all the earth; He has already granted us both a full pardon and perfect standing with the law. The call to take up arms to holiness (e.g., Rom 6:12-14), then, must be seen in this context, lest it denigrate into a work’s righteousness laden with guilt, shame, and failure (Rom 3:25).

Romans 4:3 For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 4:4 Now to the one who works, his pay is not credited due to grace but due to obligation. 4:5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in the one who declares the ungodly righteous, his faith is credited as righteousness.

4B. The Root of Holiness: Co-crucifixion and Co-Resurrection with Christ

The root of holiness, that is, the wellspring from which it flows is our union with Christ in his death and resurrection. We were co-crucified with Christ in order that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, to be completely eradicated after death (only). We have been co-resurrected with him that we might live in newness of life, i.e., resurrection life.

6:4 Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in new life. 6:5 For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be united in the likeness of his resurrection. 6:6 We know that our old man was crucified with him so that the body of sin would no longer dominate us, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

5B. The Agent of Holiness Is The Holy Spirit

The One who produces holiness in us is the Holy Spirit of God and he works at both the level of motivation and impulse, as well as at the level of the will and actual living. His desire is to reproduce the life of Christ in us. In fact, his primary ministry centers on mediating the presence of Christ to us. It is in the context of making Christ and our sonship known to the heart, i.e., a relational context, that the Spirit uses several means, i.e., the Bible, prayer, Christian community (e.g., godly counsel, sermons), the sacraments, etc., to transform our mind, emotions, and will into Christlikeness. The way in which he builds these things into our lives is through habits of holiness and over time he works his transformation in us. Thus discipleship is fundamentally a call to become, through the work of the Spirit, an example of Christ-like holiness.

John 16:13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. For he will not speak on his own authority, but will speak whatever he hears, and will tell you what is to come. 16:14 He will glorify me, because he will receive from me what is mine and will tell it to you. 16:15 Everything that the Father has is mine; that is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what is mine and will tell it to you.

2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Phil 2:12 So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, continue working out your salvation with awe and reverence, 2:13 for the one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort—for the sake of his good pleasure—is God.

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 5:23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

6B. The Experience of Holiness Is One of Conflict

There are many errors that people fall into regarding the NT truth that our experience of holiness is one of conflict and struggle. Some say that there is a higher life for the totally surrendered such that they can rise above the conflict. In short, not every Christian, they claim, has to go through this turmoil, but only those who as of yet, for whatever reason, have not hit that “place” of total surrender. In keeping with this idea, these believers generally have a pacifistic approach to holiness: “just let go and let God” is often their motto. The problem with this view is that it appears to go far beyond what Scripture promises in this life (cf. Rom 7:14-25; 8:23).

Still others suggest that the Christian life is simply one of inner turmoil and conflict all our days, with virtually little or no hope of any real experience of peace, growth, and transformation. For many thoughtful Bible readers, however, this model seems to stop far short of their experience, let alone what the Bible/Spirit seems to clearly teach; Scripture encourages us to rejoice, put sin to death, and celebrate God’s goodness.

All sides undoubtedly capture an element of the truth, but taken in themselves—as complete ways of viewing sanctification—they represent serious errors. We need to carefully explain this area of discipleship to our disciples. Untold harm is done if we do not keep in the circle of truth in this area. Let me explain the balance found in the Bible.

The substructure of New Testament thought regarding our present and future experience of salvation (i.e., our sanctification) has been categorized as a “now/not-yet” reality. We possess the Spirit now, but we still live in mortal, fallen bodies (i.e., they are “not-yet” glorified). We will someday, however, be completely glorified with no “remainders” whatsoever of indwelling sin: we have been saved, are being saved and will someday be completely saved from the penalty, power, and even presence of sin.

Those who think that this life, if lived with so-called complete surrender, will result in unmitigated inner peace, are misinformed about what the New Testament promises in the “now time” and therefore they are misinterpreting their own experience. They have brought too much of the future into their thinking about the present. The longing for such a peaceful existence is, in itself, good, but we must remember that the reality awaits God’s timing and glorification. Struggles from without and within, hand designed by God himself, have been divinely woven into the fabric of our present experience of salvation. Paul makes this clear in Romans 5:1-5.15

On the other hand, those who suggest that a Christian can expect little growth and change, do a great disservice to the gospel’s power and the present, liberating ministry of the Spirit. Many of us can testify to having tasted that the Lord is good and the peace that passes understanding (Phil 4:6-7). The balance then lies in the middle. This life is filled with conflict and peace, comfort and struggle, growth and periods of apparent stagnation. The key is twofold: (1) trust Christ to sanctify us, and (2) pursue holy obedience with zeal, not letting struggles stop us, but rather allowing them to confirm (if we’re following His commands) that we’re on the right track. Have a look at the following texts.

Romans 7:20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer me doing it but sin that lives in me.

1 Corinthians 9:23 Do you not know that all the runners in a stadium compete, but only one receives the prize? So run to win. 9:25 Each competitor must exercise self-control in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. 9:26 So I do not run uncertainly or box like one who hits only air. 9:27 Instead I subdue my body and make it my slave, so that after preaching to others I myself will not be disqualified.

2 Corinthians 7:1 Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that could defile the body and the spirit, and thus accomplish holiness (ἐπιτελοῦντες ἁγιωσύνην) out of reverence for God.

Galatians 5:17 For the flesh has desires that are opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit has desires that are opposed to the flesh, for these are in opposition (ἀντίκειται) to each other, so that you cannot do what you want.

Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived. God will not be made a fool. For a person will reap what he sows, 6:8 because the person who sows to his own flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.

Philippians 3:13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have attained this. Instead I am single-minded: forgetting the things that behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead, 3:14 with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

7B. The Personal and Community Standard of Holiness Is the Law of Christ

The standard of holiness for the Christian is expressed in “the Law of Christ.” The Law of Christ is the moral Law as found in the Old Testament, preached by the prophets, and interpreted, lived, and applied by our Lord and His apostles—only now in a new covenant context. Like everything in the New Testament, the law too comes through Christ and is therefore, in a post “first-coming” setting, often referred to as the Law of Christ. The term “law” here refers to the commandments Jesus and His apostles give us and which constitute a holy life, pleasing to God and beneficial to men and women. The Law of Christ is the standard for the Christian and Christian community, not our feelings or uninformed ideas. It calls us to a righteous and holy life. Holiness has particular reference to our relationship with God and righteousness involves the living out of that relationship with those in the world.

It is important at this point to take note of two problems. First, there are those who suggest that there is absolutely no Law in the New Testament. Any mention of Law in a post-cross setting is not Biblical to them; again, Law was only for the Old Testament, or so they protest. But Romans 13:8-10 reveals the inadequacy of such a position. So then, there is “moral” Law in the New Testament as well, and it is spelled out in the imperative, i.e., commands that are to be followed. It is, however, to be understood and applied according to Jesus’ teaching and life; he was the perfect example of Law incarnate. We understand what the command “to love” looks like by looking at him. After all, it’s into his image that we are being transformed.

Second, there are those who claim that bringing Law into a sanctification context leads inextricably to legalism. This is no more true of the New Testament saint than it was of the Old. We are not to obey His commands in order to secure a relationship with God (Pharisaism), but rather as a way of living rightly in our relationship with Him—a relationship he initiated (election, calling), sustains, and will carry on forever, by grace. And, all obedience to his commands springs from humility and personal trust, or it is of no value; the very nature of God’s holy commands requires that we trust him as we seek to obey. On the other hand, legalism is the attempt of a darkened heart, through doing “good works” or demanding a certain lifestyle from others, to merit favor with God, either for salvation or Christian growth. Legalism is ugly and springs from a heart unacquainted with God’s marvelous presence and grace. It is proud that it has accomplished so much “growth” for God, but is ignorant of the cross. Those who abide in Christ by obeying his commands, however, know the difference.

John 14:21 The person who has my commandments and obeys them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will reveal myself to him.”

Ephesians 4:22 You were taught with reference to your former life to lay aside the old man who is being corrupted in accordance with deceitful desires, 4:23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 4:24 and to put on the new man who has been created in God’s image—in righteousness and holiness that comes from truth.

1 Corinthians 9:21 To those free from the law I became like one free from the law (though I am not free from God’s law but under the law of Christ) to gain those free from the law.

Romans 7:12-14 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous, and good.

8B. The Heart of Holiness Is Love

Jesus is the one and only example of a man who kept the Law perfectly. He lived a life of holy love. He is Law incarnate. Therefore, there is no room in the Bible for a brand of holiness that stands aloof from people and their needs or is condemning, self-congratulating, arrogant, or stern and inflexible in relationships. We need to be careful in our discipling others, that as we grow in holiness, we are actually loving people more not less. We must learn to hate sin and love the sinner and therefore we must be patient with others in their spiritual journey. The heart of holiness is love; love for God and love for people.

Romans 13:10 Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 13:9 For the commandments, “do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet,” (and if there is any other commandment) are summed up in this, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 13:10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Galatians 6:2 Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

IIA. Summary

It is important that we get our disciples off on the right foot in this area of the spiritual life. We have outlined eight basic ideas for understanding the spiritual life and which form the foundation for the development of the virtues and habits of a disciple of Christ. They are to be “seen” together, each one balancing the others. Our people must learn to reflect on these truths long and hard so that the Spirit of God, like a master builder, might grab each truth and drive it home in the construction of a fit house for his dwelling.

IIIA. Questions for Thought

1. What do you think it means to be personally transformed into the image of Christ?

2. What areas of your life, right now, do you think God wants to transform, according to the Christlikeness? What areas of your disciples’ lives? Are you praying for both them and yourself? Have you shared your concern for your spiritual growth with them and others?

3. Why is it important to understand and to help our disciples understand justification?

4. How is the Holy Spirit the agent of holiness in our lives? What is his primary role and how does that relate to sanctification?

5. What does Paul mean by the “flesh”? (See also Galatians 5:16-26)

6. Does inner struggle necessarily indicate that we have done something wrong or that God is displeased with us? How do you view the war that goes on within you sometimes (1 Peter 2:11-12)? Do you think that someday, before you’re glorification, the “war” will suddenly come to an end? How do these passages relate to this idea? On the other hand, do you often feel yourself wondering whether you’ll ever have victory over some besetting sin? Do people you are discipling struggle with certain sins? How does Paul’s advice in Galatians 6:1-2 relate to this?

7. How important is it to clearly understand that the heart of holiness is love? What are some versions of holiness that fail the test in light of the criterion of love?

14 The outline for this material and a large measure of its substance is indebted to J. I. Packer, Keeping in Step with Spirit (Fleming H. Revell, 1984), 94-120. I also owe a great debt to Sinclair B. Ferguson, “The Reformed View,” in Christian Spirituality: Five View of Sanctification, ed. Donald L. Alexander (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1988), 47-76 and John Owen, Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers, and The Nature, Power, Deceit, and Prevalency of the Remainders of Indwelling Sin in Believers (see The Works of John Owen, ed. William H. Goold [Avon: Banner of Truth, 1967: VI]). See our website at www.bible.org for an outline and exposition of Owen’s Mortification.

15 See our website for my article on this passage: “Romans 5:1-5: Our Relationship with God—Experiencing the Future Now.” (http://www.bible.org/docs/nt/books/rom/rom5.htm )

Ad Category: 

8. Virtues Leading to Christlikeness

IA. The Concept of Virtue

1B. A Definition of Virtue

The term “virtue” in Greek often refers to “moral excellence” and “goodness.” Arthur F. Holmes describes “virtues” in the following way:

A virtue is a right inner disposition, and a disposition is a tendency to act in certain ways. Disposition is more basic, lasting and pervasive than the particular motive or intention behind a certain action. It differs from a sudden impulse in being a settled habit of mind, an internalized and often reflective trait. Virtues are general character traits that provide inner sanctions on our particular motives, intentions and outward conduct.16

There are many key ideas in this definition, but for our purposes here I want to focus on two. First, a virtue is a tendency, stemming from who you are at your core level, to act in certain ways. Second, it is not simply, therefore, an impulse, good or bad, but rather a settled habit of mind. Third, it has a function of providing judgment on motives and outward actions. Virtues, then, relate to who we are as people; our character.

2B. Virtue in Greek Thought

Plato’s concept of moral virtue or excellence (ἀρετή) centered on four inherent virtues: wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice. Garcia comments:

In Plato’s Republic, Socrates explains them through a doctrine of the three parts of the soul, suggesting that a person is prudent when knowledge of how to live (wisdom) informs her reason, courageous when informed reason governs her capacity for wrath, temperate when it also governs her appetites, and just when each part performs its proper tasks with informed reason in control.17

Aristotle added to this number and taught that such virtues were learned. The Stoics generally agreed with Plato. The Septuagint and the New Testament do not appear to use the word ἀρετή in the same way.18 Augustine was apparently the first one who began in earnest to bring Greek thought into theology and baptize it for Christian use.19 He developed the concept of the four virtues in relation to loving God and he added to them—and explained them—in light of the “theological” virtues of faith, hope, and love. For him the virtues were firstly theocentric, not anthropocentric.

3B. Relevant New Testament Passages Using the Term ἀρετή 20

1C. Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things.21

2C. 2 Peter 1:3-5

1:3 I can pray this because his divine power has bestowed on us everything necessary for life and godliness through the rich knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence. 1:4 Through these things he has bestowed on us his precious and most magnificent promises, so that by means of what was promised you may become partakers of the divine nature, after escaping the worldly corruption that is produced by evil desire. 1:5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith excellence, to excellence, knowledge…

IIA. Two Overarching Christian Virtues

The two central attributes of God are his holiness (expressed in his justice) and his love. These two characteristics, then, should characterize those who claim to believe in Him and follow Christ.

1B. Holiness (Righteousness/Justice/Goodness)

God is holy in the sense that he is both unique, i.e., there is no one else like him, and he is completely free of evil and infinitely good. From this character flows his righteousness wherein he always acts consistently with his moral nature (i.e., his holiness). He never breaks the standard of his own holy Law. Finally, he is just and his justice requires that all men live in accordance with the Law which he established. Thus, holiness, righteousness and justice—in a “creaturely” and derivative sense—should characterize the Christian’s disposition: “Be holy as I am holy,” says Peter, quoting the Old Testament (1 Peter 1:15-16). The one who claims to follow Jesus must be constantly growing in holiness, righteousness, and justice. The disposition of justice and goodness must permeate all other moral attributes, such as joy, conscientiousness, faithfulness, peace, kindness, gentleness; thus, I must be mixed with love, i.e., the best interests of the people involved. For example, gentleness is not a very admirable trait if it stems from a heart seeking immoral things. But if holiness and justice are its origin and permeate its presence, it is a beautiful thing. It is Christlikeness in action.

2B. Love

God is love (1 John 4:8, 16). The Bible preaches this message both by explicit and implicit means, through direct statement and a plethora of examples. Indeed, the cross of Christ demonstrates once and for all that God loves people (John 3:16). Love is at the very heart of God and motivates him to seek the welfare of lost and rebellious sinners. Love acts with the interests of others at heart. And it is precisely at this point that one must see it as needing: (1) holiness lest it go astray in determining what is best for someone and, (2) wisdom to know when and how to carry out the best actions. Thus, in Christian ethics, love is to be permeated with holiness and holiness with love and they find their fullest expression according to the wisdom that God gives us (e.g., Col 1:9-10). Holiness keeps love from turning into idolatry and codependence and love keeps holiness from turning into an aloof, austere judgmentalism. Holy love, therefore, must characterize the Christian who claims to be a disciple of Christ. We also aim to see it developed in the people God uses us to help. Finally, and just by way of note, the NT idea of love as oriented toward sacrifice for others is not really found among the pagans, but is a distinctively Christian development.

So holiness and love, that to which we have been chosen and called by God—the two overarching virtues—must undergird all other virtues giving them their motive and fire, contours, mode of operation, and goals.

IIIA. A Triad of Theological Virtues: Faith, Hope, and Love

The theological virtues are so-named because they relate primarily to the inner disposition of the heart toward God. But, of course, they are also intimately connected to and find their expression in our relationships with others (1 Cor 13:1-13). Faith in Christ gives rise to love for others and both of them are animated and strengthened by the hope we have in Christ (Col 1:4-5).

1B. Passages with All Three Mentioned

1C. 1 Corinthians 13:13

And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

2C. 1 Thessalonians 1:3

1:3 because we recall in the presence of our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and endurance of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

3C. Galatians 5:5-6

5:5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait expectantly for the hope of righteousness. 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision carries any weight—the only thing that matters is faith working through love.

4C. Colossians 1:4-5

1:4 since we heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the saints. 1:5 Your faith and love have arisen from the hope laid up for you in heaven, which you have heard about in the message of truth, the gospel.

2B. Passages on Faith, Hope, and Love

1C. Faith
1D. Romans 4:20-21

4:20 He did not waver in unbelief about the promise of God but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God. 4:21 He was fully convinced that what God promised he was also able to do.

2D. Hebrews 11:6

11:6 Now without faith it is impossible to please him, for the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

3C. Hope
1D. Romans 5:5

5:5 And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

2D. Galatians 5:5

5:5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait expectantly for the hope of righteousness.

4C. Love
1D. 1 Corinthians 13:4-6

13:4 Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious. Love does not brag, it is not puffed up. 13:5 It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered, or resentful. 13:6 It is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth. 13:7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

2D. 1 Peter 1:22-23

1:22 You have purified your souls by obeying the truth in order to show sincere mutual love. So love one another earnestly from a pure heart.

3B. The Theological Context of the Christian Virtues: God and His Work

Many of the Greeks including Aristotle and the Stoics argued that moral virtue was developed according to human achievement and that the goal in mind was personal happiness.22 Others argued that moral virtue was inherent, the natural disposition of the soul. But both of these ideas, while sharing some similarities with Christianity, are in fact at odds with Christianity’s essential ethical orientation. The “virtues” which the NT espouses have God’s character as their source, the Spirit as their efficient cause in the believer, Christ as their model, and love as their goal. They are developed in the context of the spiritual life as chapter 6 explained. They are certainly not inherent and they can be learned, but not apart from Christ.

4B. The Relational Context

The Christian virtues of faith, hope, love, wisdom, temperance, joy, courage, faithfulness, peace, and whatever other virtue there is, are learned in relationships with God (and the circumstances he brings into our lives) and others. By their very nature Christian virtues are relational; they cannot be learned in a vacuum. We learn to trust God deeper by joyfully going through the trials of life; wisdom by dealing with difficult people, courage by facing dangerous circumstances and people, faithfulness by constancy in promise keeping, patience by restraining anger, and humility by serving others. God has called us both into his body and to be salt and light in the world; he has called us into an interesting set of relationships which he uses and will always use to grow us. Personal discipleship of another person is one particular kind of relationship in which dispositions of faithfulness, gentleness, truth telling, patience, courage, etc should be esteemed and encouraged.

VA. Other Specific Christ-Like Virtues

1B. Wisdom and Discernment

Wisdom is the virtue of discerning the true nature of people and circumstance, how these relate to the salvation Christ offers, and therefore what to do in any situation. It is given by God himself, acquired through the word and prayer, and serious reflection and seeking over time. Christ himself is said to be the very wisdom of God, in that he is God’s solution to the problem of sin and the Christian is commanded to ask for wisdom (James 1:5) realizing that all wisdom from God is more ethical in nature than it is speculative (Matthew 11:29; James 3:17-18). Wisdom is applied holiness and love.

1C. Philippians 1:9-11

1:9 And I pray this, that your love may abound even more and more in knowledge and every kind of insight 1:10 so that you can decide what is best, and thus be sincere and blameless for the day of Christ, 1:11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.

2C. Proverbs 2:1-10

2:1 My child, if you receive my words, and store up my commands within you, 2:2 by making your ear attentive to wisdom, and by turning your heart to understanding, 2:3 indeed, if you call out for understanding, and raise your voice for understanding, 2:4 if you seek it like silver, and search for it like hidden treasure, 2:5 then you will understand how to fear the Lord, and you will discover knowledge about God. 2:6 For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding. 2:7 He stores up effective counsel for the upright, and is like a shield for those who live with integrity, 2:8 to guard the paths of the righteous and to protect the way of his pious ones. 2:9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity—every good way. 2:10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and moral knowledge will be attractive to you.

2B. Temperance and Self Control

The Christian virtue of self-control is the consistent ability to say “no” to our appetites and to live in moderation. It is motivated by a desire for single-minded worship of God and holiness (for it helps guard against greed and idolatry—a holiness which itself springs from a love for God and is accompanied by joy, not a hatred for all desire and passion.

1C. Galatians 5:23

5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 5:23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

2C. 2 Peter 1:5-7

1:5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith excellence, to excellence, knowledge; 1:6 to knowledge, self-control; to self-control, perseverance; to perseverance, godliness; 1:7 to godliness, brotherly affection; to brotherly affection, unselfish love.

3B. Courage

The virtue of courage involves doing difficult and dangerous things in light of keeping God’s word and for the welfare of other people. Thus it is motivated by the realization of God’s holiness, and that I must obey him no matter what, but it is expressed in love toward other people, sometimes whether they receive it as love or not. It is most endangered by the peril of death, but is intimately related to hope—a hope founded on our unbreakable connection to a person who has overcome death.

An example of courage in a discipling relationship is telling the truth in love (Eph 4:15), even when it hurts. It is done out of obedience to God (though it may cost you the relationship with the other person) and for the growth of the other person. Sometimes this expression of courage isn’t well received (Prov 9:8), but sometimes it is (Prov 9:9). Of course, the greatest act of courage was Christ’s obedient death on the cross. There we see courage lived out in obedience to God’s holy demand (Matt 26:42) and for the ultimate welfare of lost sinners. Thus, courage is not foolhardiness and reckless abandon. Rather, courage aims at God’s holiness and the welfare of people, with a full realization of both the actual and potential danger and cost involved.

1C. Joshua 1:6-9

1:6 Be strong and brave! You must lead these people in the conquest of this land that I solemnly promised their ancestors I would hand over to them. 1:7 Make sure you are very strong and brave! Carefully obey all the law my servant Moses charged you to keep! Do not swerve from it to the right or the left, so you may be successful in all you do. 1:8 This law scroll must not leave your lips! You must meditate it day and night so you can carefully obey all that is written in it. Then you will prosper and be successful. 1:9 I repeat, be strong and brave! Don’t be afraid and don’t panic, for I, the Lord your God, am with you in all you do.”

2C. John 16:33

16:33 I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but have courage—I have conquered the world.”

3C. 1 Corinthians 16:13

16:13 Stay alert, stand firm in the faith, show courage, be strong.

4B. Faithfulness

Faithfulness often has to do with doing what we say we’re going to do and not doing what we say we don’t do. It is being in practice what we claim to be and it involves doing it over long periods of time. The person who shows up for a meeting on time all semester long is a faithful person. But again, the virtue of faithfulness must be ungirded by holiness and love. Are we faithful at something in an attempt to bring God glory and the greatest good to others, i.e., loving them buy demonstrating long term commitment to them? Or are we faithful only to what we want and striving after that? There is nothing necessarily evil with wanting something, and let’s say, working hard over a long period of time to get it. But what about faithfulness to other people and their legitimate needs?

1C. Galatians 5:22-23

5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 5:23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

2C. 3 John 1:3

1:3 I was overjoyed when some of the friends arrived and testified to your faithfulness to the truth, namely how you walk in the truth (NRSV).

5B. Peace

Peace as a Christian virtue includes the idea of being at rest and harmony on the inside, irrespective of what’s happening on the outside. It is the opposite of being in turmoil and emotionally upset, and even further, being restless. It is available to those who live a holy and loving life and is centered in the knowledge of God’s sovereignty and faithfulness. It rests on the knowledge of his kind disposition toward us and the truth that we know that he works all things together for our good, according to his predetermined plan to conform us to the image of Christ (Rom 8:28-39). Therefore, we can still have peace—harmony and well-being in our soul—even when we’re suffering in difficult circumstances. We cannot, however, expect God’s peace when we’ve not dealt properly with known sin. And, we must also realize that there are times when he withholds his peace, even after we’ve confessed, in order to deepen our confession and give us more zeal in the mortification of sin (cf. Rom 8:13). From our peace with God we are to exhibit peace with other people. Indeed, as far as it depends on us, we are to be at peace with all men (Rom 12:18; Col 3:15).

Peace, like other virtues, is not an end in itself nor the highest virtue. It is not more important than “truth” rightly understood and held, nor is it more important than “truthfulness.” Thus it too must be informed by God’s holiness and lived out under the watchful eye of genuine love.

1C. John 14:27

14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; I do not give it to you as the world does. Do not let your hearts be distressed or lacking in courage.

2C. Colossians 3:15

3:15 Let the peace of Christ be in control in your heart, for you were in fact called to this peace, and be thankful.

6B. Gentleness

Gentleness as a Christian virtue is often closely related to kindness and is the opposite of being intrusive and obnoxious. It is exhibited in tenderness, softness, and the conscious exercise of loving caution in dealing with people. It is very concerned about “where other people are at” and seeks to befriend and come along side to help. It is not cowardly, however, but strong and caring. It shares the truth, listens attentively, and asks permission before blindly speaking into someone’s life.

1C. Philippians 4:5

4:5 Let your gentleness be seen by all. The Lord is near!

2C. James 3:13

3:13 Which of you is wise and understanding? By his good conduct he should show his works done in the gentleness that wisdom brings.

VIA. Summary

Christian virtues are settled dispositions that cause us to act in certain ways—ways that are Christ-like. All godly virtues are integrally related to the overarching Christian virtues of holiness and love and are produced by the Spirit as we strive to see them matured in our lives.

VIIA. Questions for Thought

1. What is a virtue? Restate the thoughts in the notes in a different and memorable way.

2. What are the overarching Christian virtues and how do they relate to other virtues. Give some example that explain the connections and relations.

3. How do the virtues relate to knowing God’s will? See Romans 12:1-2.

4. How do the virtues contrast with momentary attitudes, emotions, or responses to situations.

4. Discuss at least three virtues (other than love and holiness) and relate them to corresponding vices. See Galatians 5:16-24 for help.

16 Ethics: Approving Moral Decisions, Contours of Christian Philosophy, ed. C. Stephen Evans (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1984), 116.

17 Jorge L. A. Garcia, “Cardinal Virtues,” in The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, ed. Robert Audi (Cambridge: CUP, 1995), 103; Plato, Republic, bk. 4.

18 See O. Bauernfeind, TDNT, I: 457-60. In the LXX the term ἀρετή means “excellence” or “fame.”

19 See R. H. Mounce, “Cardinal Virtues, Seven,” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984), 193; W. N. Kerr, “Virtue, Virtues,” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984), 1146.

20 The only other passage to use the term, besides Philippians 4:8 and 2 Peter 1:3, 5 is 1 Peter 2:9.

21 See Gerald F. Hawthorne, Philippians, The Word Biblical Commentary, ed. David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker, vol. 33 (Dallas: Word, 1983), in loc. elec. version. He says, “Very likely Paul, in using this word, had in mind the Stoic sense of “moral excellence or goodness” in spite of the fact that for the Stoic ἀρετή tended to focus attention on the excellence, merits and achievement of mankind rather than upon God’s deeds.”

22 Happiness, in much of Greek ethical thought, however, was understood differently than we think of it today. We think of it primarily as a psychological state of mind. Many Greek philosophers understood it more in line with a deep seated contentment resulting from a life well lived.

Ad Category: 

9. Habits Leading to Christlikeness

IA. The Purpose and Struggle for Christ-Like Habits

1B. The Idea of a “Habit”

The term “habit” refers to a settled or regular tendency or practice.23 It can be used in a negative way in reference to bad habits, such as ignoring people when they’re talking and consistently failing to do what one has promised. We say, “he/she has the bad habit of never following through”; in Paul’s language such as person has a habit of being “unfaithful.” But the term “habit” can also be used in a positive way, in reference to good exercise habits as well as good eating habits and a host of other attitudes and practices. Obviously we want to develop the latter and forsake the former. For here we are talking about building good habits and practices into our lives. We are talking about forsaking the acts of the flesh and cooperating with the Spirit in his quest to transform us. It is largely through “habits of holiness” that the Spirit transforms us.24 But you may ask, where is this truth taught in Scripture? Let’s look at two passages:

1C. Galatians 6:7-10

6:7 Do not be deceived. God will not be made a fool. For a person will reap what he sows, 6:8 because the person who sows to his own flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. 6:9 So we must not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not give up. 6:10 So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who belong to the family of faith.

2C. James 1:22-25

1:22 But be sure you live out the message and do not merely listen to it and so deceive yourselves. 1:23 For if someone merely listens to the message and does not live it out, he is like someone who gazes at his own face in a mirror. 1:24 For he gazes at himself and then goes out and immediately forgets what sort of person he was. 1:25 But the one who peers into the perfect law of liberty and fixes his attention there, and does not become a forgetful listener but one who lives it outhe will be blessed in what he does.

Habits of holiness or spiritual disciplines as they are sometimes called, are not, however, the mere product of human strength and desire. Godly habits are initiated, carried on, and matured through the sanctifying work of the Spirit who indwells us. They are the fruit of the Spirit, but they are worked out in our lives—not as erratic psychological and sudden impulses, but growing, settled dispositions and attitudes, showing forth and leading to the transformation of character. We are to cooperate with the Spirit in striving to see these traits developed in us.

2B. Purpose for Developing Christ-Like Habits

Paul is very clear about why we discipline ourselves to live out certain godly habits. There is a goal. It is not just drudgery, as one author put it.

1C. 1 Timothy 4:7

4:7 But reject those myths fit only for the godless and gullible, and train yourself for godliness (Γύμναζε δὲ σεαυτὸν πρὸς εὐσέβειαν). 4:8 For “physical exercise has some value, but godliness is valuable in every way. It holds promise for the present life and for the life to come.” 4:9 This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance. 4:10 In fact this is why we work hard and struggle, because we have set our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.

2C. Titus 2:11-12

2:11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people. 2:12 It trains us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,

Thus the reason we develop and struggle with habits of holiness is to cooperate with the Spirit in the development of a holy and Christ-like character—”godliness” as Paul refers to it here. In short, this is what the grace of God aims at, as Titus 2:11-12 makes clear. Further, the quest for godliness and Christ-like virtues, through the practice of the disciplines, is the only logical response to God’s mercy and grace (cf. also Rom 12:1-2; 2 Cor 7:1).

3B. Three Sources of Struggle against Christ-Like Habits

1C. The World

When we refer to the “world,” we are not thinking about people only, but rather sinful habits, relationships and systems which fallen people erect in opposition to the will, works, and ways of a holy God. The world system, which lies in the lap of the evil one, is often used by him to lure and arouse us to sin. We are to realize that the death of Christ is God’s judgment on unregenerate man’s sin and sinful systems. We are to have no part in it, lest we become a “friend of the world and an enemy of God” (James 4:4). But note, we are not talking about ceasing relations with non-Christian people (1 Cor 5:9-10). God, just like he showed us in Christ, wants us to be in the world as salt and light, just not of the world, lest we lose our saltiness and no longer be any good to the Master (1 John 2:15-16)..

2C. The Flesh

The “flesh” in Scripture is used several times to indicate “physical flesh,” “frail humanity,” etc., without necessarily referring or alluding to, sinfulness. But it is also used numerous times by Paul to refer to that fallen power living within us, that anti-God impulse that powerfully drags us down into sin. In fact, the “flesh” lusts against the Spirit in order to bring us into bondage to the reign of sin and death. Paul makes several very derogatory comments about the flesh in Romans 7. He says that nothing good lives in him, that is, in his flesh (7:18); that it rears its ugly head right at the point that he would do good (7:21), and that it is so powerful that it is as a law to him (7:23). The good news is that the flesh with its desires and lusts has been crucified with Christ (Rom 6:6).

3C. The Devil

The Devil is a personal, spiritual being (a fallen angel) who tempts the saints to sin. He uses the propensity of the flesh and the evil in the world to harden our hearts and lead us astray. Some sins he is particularly famous for inciting, include: (1) the sin of pride, leading to divisions of all sorts among God’s people, and (2) the damning sin of changing the gospel and /or detaching it from a lifestyle which adorns it. He also works strenuously with non-Christians in order to blind their minds to the truth of the gospel (2 Cor 4:4).

4B. The Divine Assurance of Victory

We are told in Scripture that God has crucified the flesh with its desires and lusts. Now, insofar as the flesh was the touch point for temptation and sin, he has thus freed us from sin’s reign (Rom 6:4-5). The saints, quickened by the Spirit and armed with the sword of the Spirit and faith in Christ must daily resist Satan. James promises us that if we do resist the Devil, he will flee (James 4:7-8). And, because he who lives in us is greater than he who lives in the world, we have victory over the Devil and the evil, rebellious systems he sponsors. Some of the primary means by which the Spirit gives us victory over the three enemies of the world, the flesh, and the Devil, include: (1) the Spirit of God; (2) the word of God, and (3) the people of God.

IIA. Christ-Like Habits with A Primarily Godward Focus

Our objective in this section is simply to outline some habits of holiness, not to delve into them in great detail. We will do that later. For now it is sufficient simply to mention them and include a few brief comments.

1B. The Bible

The habit of holiness that the Spirit wants to lead us into here involves an understanding of the sufficiency, authority, clarity, and necessity of Scripture through regular and meaningful exposure to the Word he inspired. His goal is to deepen our pleasure in God’s word and give us an ability to rightly understand and apply it. He wants to train us to consistently turn there to nourish our souls, orient our lives under Christ’s Lordship, and equip ourselves for fruitful ministry (2 Tim 3:14-17). We will seek to develop a regular and systematic intake of God’s word including reading, hearing, studying, meditating, and applying the Bible.

2B. Prayer

Through prayer we enjoy vital communion with God. To pray consistently is a habit of holiness. We strive to pray and the Spirit works the virtue of faithfulness and godly desire in us. He must enable us to see our dependence and total need to be with the Father. The disciple of Christ needs to understand, then, the necessity of prayer and its relation to growth in the Christian life and fruitful ministry in Christ’s name. He/she also needs to appreciate the power of prayer by praying and watching God answer according to his will and in his timing. Most importantly, as a habit of holiness, the disciple will need to understand that prayer, like any discipline or habit, must be developed and strengthened. Therefore, the maturing disciple of Christ will seek to invest consistent time in prayer, to pray relying on the Spirit, and to pray according to a pattern (Matthew 6:9-13).25 We are urged to pray in all circumstances and to make this a habit. We are also urged to make daily prayer a habit of holiness in our lives.

3B. Worship

Worship is the natural expression of the regenerate heart. It involves love and single minded devotion to God and is as natural and necessary in the spiritual life as breathing in the physical life. Indeed, where there is physical life, there is breath; where there is spiritual life, there is worship. All of our lives are to be seen in the context of the service and sacrifice of the worship of our tenderhearted Father, “Abba” as Paul refers to him (Gal 4:6). It involves a Scripturally informed recognition and a Spirit wrought, settled disposition concerning the worthiness of God. He alone is to be joyfully worshiped and exalted. The Christian is to persevere in the discipline of worshiping God alone, for this is a habit springing from a holy heart and one that is clearly led by the Spirit.

4B. The Quiet Time

The habit of holiness referred to as the Quiet Time is related to, but distinct from prayer and Bible reading. Both of them can be done without a set time each day to be with God, but both of them are integral to a meaningful Quiet Time.

The quiet time involves living with intention in a “hurry-up” world. It is the habit of quieting your soul before God for an extended period of time (more than just saying a prayer or reading a verse). People who lack virtue can never be quiet long enough for they are at odds with themselves and the world. They often lack the Spirit inspired virtue of inner peace and to come before a holy God is a troublesome (meddlesome?) thought. This habit, however, is designed, after the model of Jesus himself who often withdrew alone to be with God (Mark 1:35). In these “quiet times” we receive grace from God’s presence, clarity of calling, a sense of commission, and new found perspective and strength. Therefore, we are going to develop a plan in order to sit at the Master’s feet each day.

5B. Fasting

Fasting food and other good and necessary things is an excellent discipline that, when done out of love for God and animated by the Spirit, develops the Christ-like virtue of temperance and self-control. We do not do it—or any of the habits of holiness, for that matter—in order to gain favor with God, but rather as an expression of our love for him and our desire to remain free from idolatry. We also do it in times of major decisions because we want to experience our dependence on God in the process of seeking guidance. And, since character is key to receiving and understanding God’s guidance, fasting helps in this regard. Again, a regular habit of fasting develops the excellent virtue of self- restraint. The Spirit uses it in order to transform us.

IIIA. Christ-Like Habits with A Primarily People Focus

1B. Serving and Spiritual Giftedness

Jesus describes his life as that of a willing and obedient servant (Mark 10:45). If we call him Lord and Master, we too must follow in his path as willing and obedient servants. By the power of the indwelling Spirit, we must strive to nurture the virtue of others-centeredness and service. Let us become known as other-centered “givers” and not self-centered “takers.” I am not saying that it is always wrong to receive; it certainly is not. But, let us also be known as those who consistently make a contribution.

Our lives should not only be characterized by an overall servant attitude, but they must also be characterized by service in specific areas—areas consistent with the gifts the Sovereign Spirit has willed to give us. We serve others in a variety of ways, but we also strive to develop our spiritual gifts in order to better serve the body in specific roles. The habit of serving others in a general fashion, as well as specifically through our Spirit given gift(s), stems from and nurtures the virtues of humility, wisdom, and conscientiousness.

2B. Fellowship

Christ-like disciples realize and value the fact that they have not been called to be lone rangers, but instead to interrelate within the body of Christ. They have been called to loving, nurturing relationships that transcend spiritual gifts and are given by God for encouragement, protection and discipline. Thus we are to learn to make deep and satisfying relationships—through wise transparency—for it is in this context, i.e., being rooted and grounded in love (a love that is increasingly knowledgeable about its object) that we personally grow in Christlikeness, encourage others to do the same, and come to understand the breadth and profundity of Christ’s love for us (Eph 3:14-20). Thus, it is both a responsibility and blessing to share all things in common with God’s people. Therefore, the virtuous Christian seeks to fellowship with other Christians on a regular basis, opening his/her life to trusted friends, expectant about what God wants to do through them by way of love, encouragement, rebuke, and instruction (Rom 15:14).

3B. Evangelism

The consistent discipline of sharing the gospel is foundational in the Christian life and is a key expression of the virtues of faithfulness, wisdom, and thankfulness. Therefore, the virtuous Christian makes it a habit to be sharing the gospel with various people, doing it with graciousness and love and in a variety of ways suitable to the circumstances. Thus a maturing disciple of Christ has a clear understanding of what the gospel is and what it is not. Further, he/she has experienced the gospel’s life transforming power and are constantly learning new methods for sharing it. They have disciplined themselves to search the scriptures so as to give careful answers in evangelistic discussions. They have a habit of thinking through the gospel and its relationship to unbelievers.

4B. Giving

Another key “habit of holiness” is the spiritual discipline of “giving.” Again, the Christian virtue of graciousness, others centeredness, mercy, and faithful stewardship of all that God has entrusted to a person, come into play here. Very few activities in the Christian life demonstrate and unveil the true heart of a person more than his/her willingness to freely give of their time, money, and resources to see another person helped, encouraged, sustained and strengthened. Indeed, very few disciplines more clearly demonstrate a person’s command of the gospel—and its control of them. Giving of ourselves, our money, time, etc. is to be a foundational attitude, virtue, and practice in the Christian life. It is generated by thankfulness for Christ’s grace and mercy, exercised in holiness (i.e., we are to give freely and not to hold people in our debt), and consistently practiced according to godly wisdom (2 Cor 9:6-8).

IVA. Summary

The normal way in which God develops holiness in and through us is as we, by the Spirit, establish “habits of holiness” in our lives—habits that reflect the godly virtues found in Christ himself. The “bread and butter” of spiritual growth, then, is the development of Christ-like character through the heartfelt, sincere, and ongoing practice of certain God-centered disciplines (Gal 5:22-24). These disciplines do not exhaust Christian responsibility, but are a Scripturally oriented, practical response to the grace of God in our lives (Titus 2:11-12). Some of the most important include the disciplines of worship, the word, prayer, quiet time, fasting, serving and intentionally using our spiritual gift(s), sincere and truthful fellowship, evangelism, and giving.

VA. Questions for Thought

1. Before you studied this lecture, what did you perceive Christian growth to be? Was it more mystical? Less ethical?

2. Define a habit and relate this to Galatians 6:7-8.

3. What are the three sources of struggle and temptation in our lives? How important then is it to know ourselves well and the schemes of Satan? Can we live well in the world and not think about the relationship we sustain to it?

4. In a couple of sentences each, define the various “habits of holiness.” Think about how you could practice each one. Applications will very greatly from person to person.

5. How is the practice of the spiritual disciplines or “habits of holiness” related to growth as a Christian? Do they automatically cause us to grow? How are they related to the Spirit’s ministry of transformation (2 Cor 3:18; Gal 6:7-8)?

23 The Oxford Dictionary of Current English.

24 Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, depravity, 5:20 idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, 5:21 envying, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and similar things. I am warning you, as I had warned you before: Those who practice [i.e., habitually do] such things will not inherit the kingdom of God!

25 We are not to repeat this prayer, necessarily, though if done with understanding and love for God that is fine. But really the prayer Jesus outlines is a model of how to pray, beginning with a recognition of the holiness of God and a seeking after his kingdom, and then followed with requests for others and ourselves.

Ad Category: 

10. Two Key Components and Mastering A Plan

IA. Two Key Components

1B. Praying for Our Disciples

1C. The Example of Jesus

Undoubtedly Jesus prayed for his disciples on many occasions (cf. Luke 6:12ff.), but John 17 stands out as the longest, most complete, and instructive of his prayers. In this High Priestly prayer our Lord petitions his Father on behalf of the disciples. First, He humbly asks that the Father protect these 11 men after he departs. This protection concerns their unity as well as their eternal security. Indeed, it concerns the unity and eternal safe-keeping of all those who would later believe in Christ through the disciples’ message (17:11, 20). Second, and in keeping with his prayer for the disciples’ protection, Jesus also asks the Father not to take the disciples out of the world, but rather to protect them from the Devil (17:15). Third, the great “High Priest” also prays for his disciples’ sanctification through the word of God (17:17) and that they will go into the world as he himself did. Fourth, Jesus asks God to make his followers “one” so that the world would know that he had been sent by God and that God loves those who believe in Christ (17:23). Fifth and final, Jesus prays that those who love him might be with him in eternity (17:24).

So we find in John 17 the twin blessing of the knowledge of how Jesus prays for us as well as a model of how we ought to pray for those whom we disciple in the Lord. In other words, we too should pray that God will protect our disciples while they journey in this world-protection from the world and the devil. We should also pray for their unity with other believers, that they would seek to preserve the bond of unity among brothers and sisters of different persuasions. Pray too that they not seek to be separate from the world, but instead live in the world as Jesus, the master, did. Finally, we should ask God to give our disciples and friends a longing for heaven, i.e., to be with Jesus; such a longing will properly orient and focus the rest of their lives and service here on earth.

2C. The Example of Paul

Paul, following his master in particular, prayed extensively for his children in the faith. His prayers are very instructive and we would do well to study them, reflect on them, and then imitate them with sincerity of heart. Let’s look at just a couple of them.

1D. Ephesians 1:15-23

1:15 For this reason, since I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 1:16 I do not cease to give thanks for you when I remember you in my prayers. 1:17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you spiritual wisdom and revelation in your growing knowledge of him, 1:18—since the eyes of your heart have been enlightened—so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 1:19 and what is the incomparable greatness of his power toward us who believe, as displayed in the exercise of his immense strength. 1:20 This power he exercised in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms 1:21 far above every rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 1:22 And God put all things under Christ’s feet and he gave him to the church as head over all things. 1:23 Now the church is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

In this passage Paul teaches us, by way of example, that prayer for Christians is a necessity and that it begins with thankfulness. We are to give thanks to God when we see His people exercising faith in Christ and love for one another. After all, this is precisely what Jesus prayed for in John 17: faith in him and love for each other. We are then to pray, asking the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ to give them (and us) spiritual wisdom and revelation. Our people need to receive great insight into God’s character, will, and ways so that they might see how their life connects with Christ and how it is now to be lived through him in a way that honors God. This is spiritual wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God.

Having prayed for wisdom and revelation, then, we are to continue, asking God so that our people (disciples) might know three things: (1) the ultimate end, certainty, and direction (hope) of their calling (Rom 5:3-5; 1 Cor 2:9; Titus 2:13); (2) the wealth of God’s inheritance in the saints and their place as a hand-picked member of that inheritance, and (3) the experience of His incomparably great power toward us, the same power that raised Christ from the dead, secured us for himself, freed us from sin, and now enables us daily to submit to His Lordship (vv. 21-23), love others, and walk worthily of the salvation we have received. When we pray as Paul does here, we must remember—as he demonstrates—that every good thing we have is through Christ Jesus our Lord (cf. Rom 11:36).

2D. Ephesians 3:14-20

3:14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 3:15 from whom every family in heaven and on the earth is named. 3:16 I pray that according to the wealth of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner man, 3:17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, so that, by being rooted and grounded in love, 3:18 you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 3:19 and thus to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. 3:20 Now to him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think, 3:21 to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

The ultimate goal for which Paul is praying here is that the Ephesians and the church worldwide would be filled up to all the fullness of God. The expression “fullness of God” refers to God’s “presence and power, his life and rule”26 in all its Trinitarian glory. Paul realizes that there are several things God will have to do before this prayer can ever be answered. First, and we should pray this for our people, Paul prays for strength in their inner man so that Christ might dwell in their hearts through faith. Second, he prays (assumes in prayer) that the community will be rooted and grounded in love for Christ and each other, and in that context will come to know the greatness, magnificence, and supra-rational nature of Christ’s love. This will lead to the church being filled up to all the fullness of God. And, Paul says, we should pray with confidence because God is able to do it beyond our wildest dreams! These are the kinds of prayers we ought to utter for our disciples.

2B. Befriending and Loving Our Disciples

1C. Informal Times Together

Generally speaking, there are two kinds of time that we spend with people whom we’re helping: informal and formal. Informal time is any and all time together when we’re not doing a specific task such as Bible study, evangelism, etc. It’s just family time! Ideally, the bulk of your time should be informal so that these younger Christians can see you around your family, work, friends, hobbies, etc. This is where they see the “best” and the “worst.” “More is caught than taught” (cf. “imitators” in 1 Thess 1:6). Remember, the best context for real impact is friendship. Don’t hide behind 1 hour meetings. When asked where he was going, Jesus told Andrew and Peter, “come, and see!” (John 1:39).

2C. Formal Times Together

Given that your friendship is deepening, you have an excellent context for some structured time together. It is during these times that your disciple/friends will come prepared, having done a study, etc., and you will invest concentrated time together working through issues of the “heart, head, and hands.”

IIA. Mastering A Plan—The Use of the Formal Time: Starting with “Lessons on Assurance”

When someone first becomes a Christian they need help. Just like a newborn coming into the world needs its mother’s milk, so the new Christian needs to immediately feed their souls on God’s word and prayer (1 Peter 2:1-3). The “Lessons on Assurance” are designed to get a new believer into the word and strengthen them in their faith. These studies can be done in 30 to 60 minutes. You should give these to new Christians (e.g., one per week) and then meet with them after they’ve completed the study in order to find out how everything went. Though they’re designed at a basic and foundational level, they have proven very helpful to countless numbers of Christians. The five studies are: (1) Assurance of God’s Love; (2) Assurance of God’s Forgiveness and Cleansing; (3) Assurance of Answered Prayer; (4) Assurance of God’s Strength for Victory; and (5) Assurance of God’s Presence and Guidance.

1B. Assurance of God’s Unconditional Love

1C. Read Romans 5:6-8

5:6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 5:7 (For rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person perhaps someone might possibly dare to die.) 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Questions for Thought and Meditation

1. How did God prove his love for us? (How does God continue to prove his love to us? E.g., Matthew 6:32)

2. What condition were we in when Christ died for us? What do you think it means to be helpless? In what sense or in respect to what?

3. What is the difference between God’s love and the love people have in the world?

4. How many of your sins were future when Christ died for you? What is this saying about his love for you?

5. Read Romans 5:5. How has God made his love known to you personally?

6. Summarize what this passages teaches about God’s love for you.

2C. Read Lamentations 3:22-24

3:22 The Lord’s many kindnesses never cease, for his great compassion never comes to an end. 3:23 They are renewed every morning; your faithfulness is abundant! 3:24 I said to myself, “The Lord is the portion of my inheritance; therefore, I will put my hope in him.”

Questions for Thought and Meditation

1. What does the word kindness mean? What does it mean to you that it is in the plural, i.e., kindnesses?

2. According to this passage will there ever come a time when God no longer desires to be kind and compassionate to you, i.e. to stop loving you dearly?

3. Why is it significant, do you think, that Jeremiah says that God’s kindnesses are renewed every morning? How does that create hope in a person?

4. What does the word faithful mean? What kind of faithfulness does God demonstrate?

5. Why do you think the Psalmist puts his hope in God? Why should you put your hope in God?

6. Summarize this passage and relate how it has helped you today.

3C. Meditate on Hebrews 12:4-10

12:4 You have not yet resisted to the point of bloodshed in your struggle against sin. 12:5 And have you forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as sons? “My son, do not scorn the Lord’s discipline or give up when he corrects you. 12:6For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son he accepts.12:7 Endure your suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? 12:8 But if you do not experience discipline, something all sons have shared in, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 12:9 Besides, we have experienced discipline from our earthly fathers and we respected them; shall we not submit ourselves all the more to the Father of spirits and receive life? 12:10 For they disciplined us for a little while as seemed good to them, but he does so for our benefit, that we may share his holiness. 12:11 Now all discipline seems painful at the time, not joyful. But later it produces the fruit of peace and righteousness for those trained by it.

Questions for Thought and Meditation

1. What does it mean to struggle with sin?

2. Does loving your children entail the idea that you will never discipline them when they err?

3. What relationship are we to God? How do you treat your children when they err?

4. Summarize in your own words the thought in vv. 7-8. Certainly you disciple your own children. Would you really love them if you simply let them carry on in their folly and waywardness? But do you do the same for other people’s children?

5. What, in verse 9, is the ultimate goal for which God disciplines us as his children?

6. What is our experience of discipline? Is it fun? Read v. 11. But when God disciplines us what is the outcome, according to v. 11?

4C. Summary

Summarize this study on God’s love bringing together His work on the cross, your need, and the way he treats you now as a Father. How has this study impacted you; how has it deepened and changed the way you view your relationship with God? What are some questions that you still have that you would like to discuss with someone at some time?

2B. Assurance of God’s Forgiveness and Cleansing

1C. Read 1 John 1:7-9

1:7 But if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 1:8 If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 1:9 But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.

Questions for Thought and Meditation

1. What do you think John means by walk? Light?

2. What is the condition for fellowship in v. 7?

3. On what basis are believers cleansed from their sin? How much of their sin is cleansed?

4. What is the problem with claiming that we have never sinned or that there isn’t sin in our lives any more?

5. What is guilt? Think for a moment. If a person breaks the law, they are in a state of guilt whether they “feel” guilty or not. But, when John mentions “bear the guilt of sin” is he talking about the state as well as our condition (e.g., the experience of a stricken conscious)?

6. Two things are true about those who deny the presence of sin in their lives. What are they according to v. 8?

7. To confess our sins means “to acknowledge our sins before God himself.” We do not hide them; he knows each and every one. What are the two attributes or characteristics of God that John mentions? How do they relate to what God says he will do when we confess our sins?

8. What does God promise to do if we confess our sins to him? Will he cleanse us from only certain sins? What sin have you committed that makes it hard for you to believe that God will forgive you when you confess it (or, has forgiven you when you did confess it)?

9. What things make it hard for you to believe that God not only wants to forgive you, but that he already has? How does verse 9 help you with this?

2C. Read Psalm 103:11-12

103:11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 103:12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 103:13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him…

Questions for Thought and Meditation

1. How far are the heavens above the earth? The east from the west? How far has he removed our transgressions from us?

2. How does a father have compassion on his children?

3. Think through some positive examples of fathers and their children and relate them to God’s “fathering” of his children.

4. How does the Father image of God help you relate to him and believe that your sins are forgiven?

5. Summarize this passage and how it relates to your experience of God’s forgiveness.

3C. Summary

Summarize the ideas in these verses. Note the foundation of forgiveness and its extent.

3B. Assurance of Answered Prayer

1C. John 16:24

16:24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive it, so that your joy may be complete.

Questions for Thought and Meditation

1. What had the disciples never experienced before? Is that true for you as well?

2. What did Jesus tell them to do?

3. What promise did Jesus give the disciples if they asked? What does this tell you about the heart of God?

4. Read Matthew 6:25-34. What does Jesus tell us about God’s understanding of our needs? Why then do you suppose, if God knows our needs, he still commands us to pray?

5. Why does God answer our prayers, according to John 16:24? How does answered prayer relate to joy in our lives? Have you experienced this in answer to a prayer?

6. Try writing out a prayer and begin to pray it daily. Watch for God’s answer. Then share your joy with someone and write it down for future encouragement. Remembering God’s faithfulness is a key source of encouragement in difficult times.

2C. 1 John 5:14-15

5:14 And this is the confidence that we have before him: that whenever we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 5:15 And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, then we know that we have the requests that we have asked from him.

Questions for Thought and Meditation

1. What does the term confidence mean? Give an illustration.

2. What does anything mean? What is the one limitation put on the anything?

3. What is the key source for learning about God’s will so that we begin to think like he does and therefore ask things that are really on his heart?

4. What does John say it means when God hears us?

5. Summarize what this passage teaches about prayer. Relate it to John 15:7.

6. How could you apply this passage in your life this week?

3C. Summary

Summarize what you think these verses teach about the assurance of answered prayer.

4B. Assurance of God’s Strength for Victory over Sin

1C. Philippians 4:13

4:13 I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me.

Questions for Thought and Meditation

1. How did Paul do all that God had called him to do?

2. How did God strengthen him? How will He strengthen us?

3. Does this mean that Paul didn’t want or need help from other people? Read Philippians 4:14.

2C. 1 Corinthians 10:13

10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: he will not let you be tempted too much, but with the temptation will also provide a way through it so that you may be able to endure.

Questions for Thought and Meditation

1. What does it mean to be overtaken by a temptation?

2. In what way are our trials and temptations no different than other people? How does knowing this help you?

3. What, in this passage, is the key attribute of God to remember when going through temptations? Why would this be important?

4. What do you think, after reading 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 Paul means by “a way through it”? What might that way be?

5 What is the key virtue that temptation is intended by God to bring?

3C. Summary

What does it mean, then, to be assured of God’s strength for victory over sin? Read Romans 6:12-14 to help you flesh this idea out a bit more.

5B. Assurance of God’s Presence and Guidance

1C. Proverbs 3:5-6

3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. 3:6 Acknowledge him in all your ways, and he will make your paths straight.

Questions for Thought and Meditation

1. What is the key virtue we are to express in the process of seeking guidance from God?

2. With how much of our heart do we need to trust him? Why is this so?

3. What does it mean to not “rely on our own understanding”? Is this the same thing as not using it? Certainly the human decision to trust God with all our hearts implies using our understanding. So what do you think the writer means?

4 According to v. 6, what is a key expression of trust?

5. What is the promise for those who trust God by acknowledging him in everything they do?

2C. Psalm 32:8

32:8 I will instruct and teach you about how you should live. I will advise you as I look you in the eye.

Questions for Thought and Meditation

1. What does God promise to do in this verse? In what area in particular does he promise guidance?

2. What does it mean to “look someone in the eye”? What does this indicate about the way God will guide us?

3C. Summary

Summarize what these verses teach about God’s presence and guidance. How does the issue of guidance relate to the Bible and the work of the Spirit? How does receiving guidance from God relate to our growth in holiness?

NOTE: There are areas of guidance in which God has already spoken and made clear in Scripture, e.g., prayer, giving, etc. There are, however, other areas that pertain specifically to my life, e.g., where to live, vocation, etc. We should not expect God to guide us in these specific areas unless we are obeying what he has already clearly revealed for all Christians in Scripture.

Some basics in receiving God’s guidance include a commitment to His Lordship, obeying his Word and prayerfully seeking his leading. With these in place a person is able to properly interpret and act on the knowledge of his/her gifts, godly counsel, circumstances, desires, peace, and sovereignly placed limitations.

1. What does God promise he will do?

2. How will God instruct us in the truth about how we should live? What role do the Spirit, scriptures, and teachers/godly friends play in this guidance? How about circumstances?

3. What does it mean to advise someone?

4. What is the significance of the phrase: “as I look you in the eye”?

4. After answering all the questions, how do you think God will guide you in the daily affairs of life as well as important and life changing decisions?

IIIA. Process of Disciplemaking: Encouraging the Imitation of Christ

26 See Andrew T. Lincoln, Ephesians, Word Biblical Commentary, ed. David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker, vol. 42 (Dallas: Word, 1990), in loc. elec. version.

Ad Category: 
Biblical Topics: 

11. Mastering A Plan for Formal Time Together—The Bible

IA. Developing Habits of Holiness

1B. Plan Meeting for about 1-2 Hours

Plan for your formal meeting times together to be not less than an hour and probably not more than two hours. Obviously needs fluctuate and situations arise, but don’t give the impression that your meetings together will last for hours. Your friend may have a busy schedule and it may be difficult to carve out more than one to two ours. Further, he/she may shrink back from meeting with you if you’re always taking longer than you said you would.

2B. Pursue A Deeper Friendship

Use the first few minutes of your time together to laugh, share, and catch up on each other’s lives. Perhaps you haven’t seen each other for a week or so and it’s time to reconnect. Ask them how they’re doing, how their family is, how things are at work, etc. Listen as they talk because much of their heart will be revealed at this time. You will come to understand their lives, pressures, struggles and successes better. This in turn will give you insight on how to love them better as you help them grow strong in discipleship. On several occasions I spent time with a person, who was supposed to be helping me in the faith, and never once did they ask me a question about my life. This is not good and often leads to bitterness, and in one sense it’s easy to understand why; people hurt each other (sometimes very deeply) when they do not love very well. So move into their lives and empathize with where they’re at.

3B. Pray Together

Ask them to pray with you as you orient them to your time together. Pray for the things they just talked about, for the things on your heart, and for the study you are about to review together. Encourage them to pray as well, and bless their prayers after you’re finished praying together: bless their prayers with a word of encouragement, even if they weren’t that accurate, theologically speaking. You’d be amazed how much God can understand. The heart is key. As long as they’re turning their heart to him in prayer, he’ll teach them more. Remember too, that you will be doing a study on prayer next time. Use that as an opportunity to input in this area.

4B. Review Study Together

1C. Questions about the Study

They should come having completed the Bible study. They’ve already learned how to meditate on Scripture from the Lessons on Assurance” so it is fine to ask them to do the study ahead of time. Do not, however, give them grief if they have not done it or are not finished yet. Bless them and encourage them. Then do the study together right there. Work through as much as you can. Leave the rest for the next meeting and encourage them to finish it on their own.

As you work through the passages together, questions will arise. First, you will be asking questions, but then other questions will develop as well. Generally these will come from obvious points of tension in the Bible itself as well as points of blessing and struggle (in light of the Bible’s teaching) in their own lives.

1D. Questions You Ask

The questions you should ask as you work your way through each passage are questions designed to surface his/her understanding of the text and topic. For example, “What do you think Paul means by ‘always’ in this passage?” “What does Paul mean when he says that we should pray ‘without ceasing’?” Keep the questions focused on the meaning of the passages you’re studying. Direct him into the Bible to get answers to questions. If he answers the questions off the top of his head, help him to go into the passage and its context to find the answers. Help him “hook-and-eye” things together in the Bible. Teach him to relate passages together properly. The purpose of these times together is to help your disciple “search the Scripture” and reason from them. This is a key life long skill that they must develop. NOTE: You are not as concerned with the answers as you are with the way he’s answering them.

2D. Questions Due to Points of Tension in the Bible

Often times the Bible will state something that appears confusing or difficult to understand. This is generally due to the fact that the Bible was completed around 2000 years ago, in a different culture, with different languages from our own and because our spiritual condition often renders us unable to comprehend the significance of what it said. These hurdles are by no means insurmountable, but undoubtedly your disciples will ask questions such as “What does that mean? or “What does that imply?” or “I don’t understand a word of what he’s talking about.” Be patient and try to answer the question from the text as well as other passages that you know in Scripture. If you simply don’t know the answer, then tell him/her: “I don’t know, but I’ll see if I can talk to our pastor (i.e., somebody who might know) to get an answer.” In the process of doing so you are teaching your disciple humility and how to go about getting an answer that he can then compare with Scripture (Acts 17:11). Do not dismiss the question simply because you don’t know the answer or don’t consider it important. All things being equal, if he asked the question, he’s probably interested in an answer. Your effectiveness as a disciplemaker will be severely limited if you do not consider his questions important enough to warrant a thought-through, sincere response.

3D. Questions Due to Points of Blessing and Struggle in Their Lives

During the study your disciple will ask many questions and some of them will reveal that he/she is really struggling with what the Bible appears to be teaching in a certain place. If they are struggling with something, and they have misinterpreted the passage in question, then just point out the error gently, and confirm the proper meaning of the passage. But, if they have really understood the passage well, and they’re struggling with it, you will need to do several things. First, confirm in their minds that they really have understood what the particular text is saying, and how it relates to the rest of the Bible’s teaching on the subject. Then empathize with their struggle and relate it somehow to God’s love for us as displayed in the cross. So no matter what the problem is, they realize that God’s love for them is secure. Then encourage them to put the issue on hold until they learn more. Remind them that great men and women of the faith have had their struggles and have continued to love God with all their heart. In most cases the issue will resolve itself in their minds as the Holy Spirit works in them. If you can, tell them how God has helped you when you’ve struggled with the Bible’s teaching on some issue.

2C. Synthesize and Summarize the Bible’s Teaching

At the end of your study of the topic, after you’ve asked your friend lots of questions about the various passages, it is time to help him with his summary of the Bible’s teaching on the topic. Help them to write a succinct statement on the topic and relate to other teachings from the Bible.

After you have synthesized the Bible’s teaching on the topic you will want to brainstorm on how to apply it to your lives. Keep the applications in line with the text, creative, personal, measurable, and attainable. If the application involves a major issue, such as moving, resigning from a job, etc. more study, prayer, reflection, and counsel should generally be sought. The applications should be thought of in terms of relationship with God, family, Christians in general, the world, and even in terms of the relationship we bear to Satan as our enemy. Humility is the foundation of all application of the Bible and love is the goal.

3C. Verse Memorization

You will want to help your disciple memorize verses from the Bible. They might want to memorize a verse or two that best captures the meaning of the Bible regarding the topic under consideration. Or, they may want to memorize a verse that most encourages them to practice what the Bible is teaching on the topic.

5B. Apply It Together (Accountability)

After you have brainstormed about possible applications for the week coming, take 10-15 minutes of your time and apply the Bible right then and there with your disciple. If the topic is worship, then worship together for 15 minutes. If it is prayer, then pray for 15 minutes together. If it is fasting or giving you may have to seek a later time to apply it together. But make sure you exemplify what the Bible is teaching.

6B. Pray Together and Confirm Next Meeting Time

At the end of the study pray together, blessing God for all he has taught you and blessing one another for the fellowship and encouragement. Briefly discuss the time to meet next week and then talk about any other informal times you want to get together, perhaps your family with his.

7B. Evaluate

When you are alone after the meeting it is time to evaluate how your disciple is doing and to pray for them. There are several things to think about. First, is everything o.k. in their lives or are they in a crisis situation that needs immediate attention. In other words, what is the biggest problem in their life right now and what does God want you to do about it. You may discover that there’s nothing you can do about it, but you may also find significant ways to help. Be sensitive to where they’re at as people.

Second, how are they doing with the Bible study, understanding and applying. Are they developing in the virtues we outlined. If so, how? Where are they weak; where are they strong? Do they show signs of a maturing faith, greater longing and hope, and love for God and others. Are they growing in the moral virtues as well. And the intellectual virtues? All these assignments you will do with them are building as foundation for that kind of life: a life of Christlikeness. Keep praying for them each day, asking God to fill them with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding that they might honor him by fruitful living (Col 1:9-10).

IIA. A Study on the Bible

1B. Why Start with the Bible?

The reason that we do our first study on the Bible is because it opens our disciple’s heart to its importance and how to meditate and think through the Bible. Since all the other lessons involve work in the Bible, it is best to learn how to read, study, and meditate on it right up front.

2B. A Study on the Bible for New Disciples

1C. The Importance of the Bible
1D. Deuteronomy 32:47.

1E. Where were the Israelites? What were they getting ready to do?

2E. How does Moses refer to the Word of God in Deuteronomy 32:47? What does this mean? Is it similar to Jesus’ comments in Matthew 4:4? How?

3E. What does the term “life” mean in Deuteronomy 32:47? How does this relate to what Jesus said in John 6:63?

2D. Isaiah 66:2

1E. Who is the one God esteems or thinks highly of?

2E. What does it mean to tremble at His word?

2C. Nature of the Bible as God’s Word
1D. 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

1E. How much of Scripture is God’s word? What do you think the expression “God breathed” means?

2E. Is there a sequence of thought in the following words: teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness? What then is the goal of Scripture then? How does v. 17 contribute further to this idea?

2D. 2 Peter 1:20-21

1E. Why is it so important to understand that men spoke from God and not from their thoughts only?

2E. What was the Spirit’s role in relation to the writing of scripture? How does that relate to Peter’s experience of Christ and the Transfiguration in Matthew 17?

3D. 1 Corinthians 2:13-14

1E. How does Paul express the idea of being “carried along” by the Holy Spirit?

2E. What does Paul say about the man without the Spirit of God in him? What does he mean by “receive” or better “welcome”? How does this help you understand your non-Christian friends?

3E. Why would unbelievers consider God’s truth foolishness (see Romans 8:7)?

3C. The Bible and Growth in the Christian Life
1D. Deuteronomy 29:29.

1E. What are the secret things that Moses speaks of?

2E. Who do the things revealed belong to? Why does God reveal his thoughts to his people? How does this affect them, their family, their kids’ families, and so on?

2D. John 17:17

1E. What does it mean to be “sanctified”?

2E. What is the relationship between truth and sanctification? What does Jesus say is the “truth”?

3D. James 1:21-25

1E. Sanctification begins with salvation. How is the “word” (i.e., the preaching of the cross) related to salvation?

2E. What happens if we listen to the word but do not do what it says? How could this happen? Give an example.

3E. How is the Bible like a mirror? Explain James’ analogy. What does James mean by “blessing” and under what circumstances does God give it?

4D. What do the following passages teach you about the Bible?

1E. Matthew 24:35

2E. Hebrews 4:12

3E. 2 Peter 1:3-4

4E. Jeremiah 15:16; 23:29

5E. Matthew 4:4

5D. Colossians 3:16

1E. What does it mean to let the word of Christ dwell in you richly?

2E. How is the “word dwelling in us richly” related to the rest of the verse?

4C. Three Good Examples of Bible Oriented Lives
1D. The Example of Joshua (Joshua 1:8)

1E. What two things were Joshua commanded to do?

2E. What does it mean to meditate?

3E. How often was he to meditate on the Book of the Law?

4E. Why was he to meditate on the Book of the Law?

5E. What did God promise him if he obeyed the Book of the Law?

2D. The Example of Ezra (Ezra 7:10)

1E. What does it mean to “set your heart” on something?

2E. What three things was going to do?

3E. What is the significance of the order of the three things?

3D. The Example of the Bereans (Acts 17:11)

1E. How were the Bereans referred to by Luke? Why?

2E. How can they be an example to us in terms of the Bible and listening to preaching and teaching?

5C. The Centrality of Christ in Scripture—John 5:39
1D. What is the context of Jesus’ comment?
2D. What did he say about the Scriptures?
3D. How does this help you in understanding Scripture?
6C. Summarize

Take a few minutes and summarize the Bible’s teaching on itself, it’s importance, and its relationship to spiritual growth. How do the Biblical examples of Joshua, Ezra, and the Bereans illuminate the Bible’s own teaching about itself, its importance, and its relationship to growth and God’s work? Write a summary statement for all of this. Try and relate this to what you’ve learned about the work of the Spirit and the goal of our election, i.e., holiness and usefulness to the Lord.

3B. Memorize A Passage

You will want to encourage the person you’re discipling to memorize a passage of Scripture at this point. He/she can do it by writing it out on a 3” x 5” card or simply underlining it in his Bible. The following is a list of verses that you can use throughout this follow-up plan.

1) The Bible: 2 Timothy 3:16-17

2) Prayer: 1 John 5:14-15

3) Worship: Revelation 4:11

4) The Quiet Time: Mark 1:35

5) Serving: Mark 10:45; 1 Peter 4:10

6) Fellowship: Hebrews 10:24-25

7) Evangelism: Matthew 4:19

8) Giving: 2 Corinthians 9:6-8

9) Fasting: Matthew 6:17-18

4B. Meditation on Scripture

The key to all good Bible study is sweat. Spend time asking the text questions and seeking answers. But in the end, spend much time in prayerful meditation, filling your mind with the text and allowing the Spirit to guide, convict, mold, and encourage you with it (Rom 15:4). Some keys to meditation are: (1) memorize the passage so that you can work through it in your mind’s eye; (2) run through the passage many times in your mind, emphasizing different words each time; (3) always be asking how this particular passage relates to other Scripture and your life.

5B. Application

The application from this lesson is to ask God to deepen your love for Him and His Word, and to spend fifteen minutes in meditation on the text you memorized. Do this together and then spend a few minutes sharing what you’ve found. Always let him/her share what they’ve found and don’t criticize their interpretations at this point. It is enough that they’re in the Bible and that’s what you want to celebrate together. If they ask for help, certainly give it, but do it in such a way that majors on what they did see that was right!

The larger and life-long application will be to set a specific time each week for Bible study, meditation, and reflection. This can be any length of time, but it is difficult to get anything accomplished in less than 1 ½ hours. You be the judge of what you need in order to accomplish your goals in this area. But it must be personal, measurable, and attainable. Help the new Christian to begin to learn to set this time apart for the discipline of study and reflection. Do it with him/her for the first few weeks or months so that they can see what you do. It is during this time that you can pass on more about Bible study, interpretation, meditation, and reflection.

When changes come into our lives, like job changes, moves from one city to another, or new children “hit the scene,” this can really throw us off. There is no need to feel unhealthy guilt. Jesus is Lord over our circumstances. Just think through what this “study time” might look like now and when it can happen in light of the new circumstances. Sometimes new mothers have to get up several times each night to the point where they’re simply too tired for a number of months to spend much time thinking about the Bible or anything else for that matter. The verses they have memorized will be a great source of encouragement and strength during such prolonged periods of fatigue. When things begin to change, however, a person should seek to reestablish the life-long “habit of holiness” of study and reflection.

6B. Progressing into Deeper Studies

When a person has gone through all these question and answer Bible studies there are more skills to develop. But this is a good place to get them started digging into Scripture. For more information on how to study the Bible, please see the article on our website entitled “How to Study the Bible: For Beginners—Stage One and Two” (http://www.bible.org/docs/splife/study/toc.htm ). Again, no matter how much a person knows the Bible, in order for that knowledge to be of any practical and conscious use to them, they must meditate on it and give it a chance to hook-and-eye together with their life. Always emphasize meditation. (See our website for the Scripture memory program there as well.)

Ad Category: 

12. Mastering A Plan for Formal Time Together—Prayer

IA. A Bible Study on Prayer

1B. The Nature and Foundation of Prayer

1C. Matthew 7:7-11

7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. 7:8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks the door will be opened. 7:9 Is there anyone among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 7:10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 7:11 If you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

2C. Acts 4:24-31

4:24 When they heard this, they raised their voices to God with one mind and said, “Master of all, you who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything that is in them, 4:25 who said by the Holy Spirit through your servant David our forefather,

Why do the nations rage, And the peoples plot foolish things? 4:26 The kings of the earth stood together, And the rulers assembled together, Against the Lord and against his Christ.

4:27 “For both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, assembled together in this city against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, 4:28 to do as much as your power and your plan had decided beforehand would happen. 4:29 And now, Lord, pay attention to their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your message with great courage, 4:30 while you extend your hand to heal, and to bring about miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 4:31 When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God courageously.

3C. Ephesians 2:17-18

2:17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, 2:18 so that through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

4C. Hebrews 4:15-16

4:15 For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. 4:16 Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.

5C. Questions

1. In Matthew 7:7-11 what does it mean to “ask,” “seek,” and “knock”? What are the images here? What sense about prayer do you get from them?

2. What do vv. 8-11 teach you about the heart of God, his goodness, and his willingness to give? How does this help you to persevere in prayer?

3. How did Peter, John, and the others “raise their voices to God” in Acts 4:24? What does “one mind” mean? How important is “unity with other Christians” to a prosperous prayer life? Note: You may want to wait until you have completed more of this study before you answer that question. Keep it in your mind for now.

4. How did the early Christians address God in Acts 4:24? Why is God’s sovereignty in creating, sustaining, and guiding all of creation important to recognize in prayer (see Acts 4:28)?

5. What Scripture passage do they pray in Acts 4:25? How does that inform and impact their prayers? What can you learn from this?

6. What do these early Christians pray for in Acts 4:29? What do they ask God to do (Acts 4:30)? What was the result of their prayer (Acts 4:31)?

7. Who gives us access to the Father in Ephesians 2:17-18? How is this the foundation for the possibility and practice of prayer?

8. When we are in need, what does Hebrews 4:15-16 teach us to do? How is God’s throne referred to here? How is that encouraging? What is implied with the use of the verb “find”? NOTE: As a needy creature, you will look somewhere for what only God can offer. Why not come to Him first?

2B. Perseverance in Prayer

1C. Psalm 88:1, 13

88:1 O Lord God who delivers me! By day I cry out and at night I pray before you. 88:13 As for me, I cry out to you, O Lord; in the morning my prayer confronts you.

2C. Luke 18:1

18:1 Then Jesus told them a parable to show them they should always pray and not lose heart.

3C. Questions

1. What emotional state is conveyed by the words, “I cry out” in Psalm 88:13? How do you respond to your suffering? Do you pray? Or, do you quit praying? Why? Read all of Psalm 88 and note the psalmist’s attitudes and struggles.

2. In Luke 18:1 Jesus teaches us that we should always pray. What does it mean, then, to “lose heart”? What things can cause us to become discouraged with prayer and give up? Read the rest of the passage, i.e., from 18:1-8.

3B. The Pattern of Prayer

1C. Matthew 6:9-15

6:9 So pray this way: Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored, 6:10 may your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 6:11 Give us today our daily bread, 6:12 and forgive us our debts, as we ourselves have forgiven our debtors. 6:13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. 6:14 “For if you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 6:15 But if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you your sins.

2C. A.C.T.S.

The “term” A.C.T.S. is an acronym developed to help us mentally focus while we pray; it keeps our minds from wandering. In general, it follows the pattern of prayer Jesus outlined for us in Matthew 6:9-15.

1D. Adoration
2D. Confession
3D. Thanksgiving
4D. Supplication
3C. Questions

1. Why do you think Jesus, who was opposed to the mindless repetition of long prayers, gave this pattern for prayer in Matthew 6:9-13? Why is a pattern for prayer important? NOTE: “pray this way” implies, to some degree, that what follows is a model or pattern for prayer. But notice that while this pattern is followed throughout the NT, the prayer itself is not repeated verbatim anywhere.

2. Who does Jesus tell us to focus on first in prayer (6:9)? How are we to address God? What two things are we to pray concerning God (6:9-10)? Later in the study, come back and relate Matthew 6:9-10 to 1 John 5:14-15.

3. After we’ve addressed God and His concerns, Jesus leads us to pray for ourselves. What three things does he say to pray for in 6:11-13? How would you summarize these things and what conditions are attached in 6:12 and 6:14-15? Why is forgiveness so important to Jesus’ conception of true prayer?

4. Summary: What does A.C.T.S. mean? How is it helpful?

4B. The Preconditions of Prayer

1C. Psalm 66:18

66:18 If I had harbored sin in my heart, the sovereign Master would not have listened.

2C. Mark 11:24-25

11:24 For this reason I tell you, whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 11:25 Whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your sins.”

3C. John 16:24

16:24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive it, so that your joy may be complete.

4C. James 4:1-3

4:1 Where do the conflicts and where do the quarrels among you come from? Is it not from this, from your passions that battle inside you? 4:2 You desire and you do not have; you murder and envy and you cannot obtain; you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask; 4:3 you ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, so you can spend it on your passions.

5C. 1 John 5:14-15

5:14 And this is the confidence that we have before him: that whenever we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 5:15 And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, then we know that we have the requests that we have asked from him.

6C. Questions

1. What does Psalm 66:18 teach us about the relationship of answered prayer to known sin in our lives?

2. What two conditions are placed upon prayer in Mark 11:24-25? How are they related to each other? Mark 11:24 seems to be a carte blanche or free ticket to get whatever we want. All we need to do is believe! But is this true? How does v. 25 place a restriction, to some degree, upon v. 24 and how do the other passages in this section (i.e., 4B) round out Jesus’ meaning here? What, then, is Jesus’ point about the centrality of faith in our prayer lives?

3. What does it mean to ask for something from God “in the name of Christ” (John 16:24)? What is the result of answered prayer in John 16:24? How does John 16:24 relate to the same author’s words in 1 John 5:14-15? What is the number one delimitation placed upon prayer? How does this relate to some peoples’ concept that God is simply a nickelodeon waiting for someone to put in a nickel’s worth of prayer? On the other hand, what does God say he’ll do if we ask according to his will?

4. According to James 4:1-3, what are some other reasons for God refusing to grant our requests?

5B. The Power of Prayer

1C. 2 Chronicles 7:13-14

7:13 When I close up the sky so that it doesn’t rain, or command locusts to devour the land’s vegetation, or send a plague among my people, 7:14 if my people, who belong to me, humble themselves, pray, seek to please me, and repudiate their sinful practices, then I will respond from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.

2C. James 5:14-16

5:14 Is anyone among you ill? He should summon the elders of the church, and they should pray for him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 5:15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick and the Lord will raise him up—and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 5:16 So confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness.

3C. Questions

1. In 2 Chronicles 7:14, the chronicler lists three things that must go with prayer if we want God to respond from heaven, forgive us, and heal our land. What are they and how are they related to each other and other verses in this section? What does 7:14 teach about God’s willingness to respond to sincere and truthful prayer? Do you think the church is currently availing itself, to the degree that it could, of God’s wonderful promise of restoration, forgiveness, provision, and divine enablement?

2. What does James say about prayer in 5:14-16? We have seen all throughout this study that there is an explicit connection made between ethics and prayer in Biblical teaching. Indeed, this was made clear in 2 Chronicles 7:14. Are you surprised to see James make the same connection again at the end of 5:16? What does he say about the relationship of answered prayer and the condition of one’s spiritual and ethical life? We often focus on the power of prayer and forget that God listens to people not prayers, per se.

6B. The Practice of Prayer

1C. Mark 1:35

1:35 Then Jesus got up early in the morning when it was still very dark, departed, and went out to a deserted place, and there he spent time in prayer.

2C. Luke 6:12

6:12 Now it was during this time that he went out to the mountain to pray, and he spent all night in prayer to God.

3C. Acts 1:14

1:14 All these continued together in prayer with one mind, together with the women, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

4C. Romans 12:12

12:12 Rejoice in hope, endure in suffering, persist in prayer.

5C. Colossians 4:2-3

4:2 Be devoted to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving. 4:3 At the same time pray for us too, that God may open a door for the message so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.

6C. Colossians 4:12

4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a slave of Christ, greets you. He is always struggling in prayer on your behalf, so that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.

7C. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

5:16 Always rejoice, 5:17 constantly pray, 5:18 in everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

8C. Questions

1. What does the example of Jesus teach us about the necessity of focused and regular prayer? Why would the Son of God need to pray so much? What does that imply about us?

2. What is Paul’s basic point about prayer in his letters? How does this relate to Jesus’ teaching in, say, Luke 18:1?

3. How did Paul characterize Epaphroditus’s prayer life on behalf of the Colossians? How does this relate to Luke 18:1 and Paul’s teaching on prayer? Have you ever sustained this kind of ministry for others? What would it be like to do so? Who could you pray constantly for, to see them mature in their Christian faith?

7B. The Petitions of Prayer

1C. Jeremiah 33:3

33:3 ‘Call on me in prayer and I will answer you. I will show you great and mysterious things which you still do not know about.’

2C. Matthew 9:37-38

9:37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. 9:38 Therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.”.

3C. Luke 6:28

6:28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

4C. John 14:13-14

14:13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14:14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

5C. Acts 26:29

26:29 Paul replied, “I pray to God that whether in a short or a long time not only you but also all those who are listening to me today could become such as I am, except for these chains.”

6C. Romans 10:13

10:13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

7C. Ephesians 3:14-20

3:14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 3:15 from whom every family in heaven and on the earth is named. 3:16 I pray that according to the wealth of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner man, 3:17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, so that, by being rooted and grounded in love, 3:18 you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 3:19 and thus to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. 3:20 Now to him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think, 3:21 to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

8C. Philippians 4:6-7

4:6 Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, tell your requests to God in your every prayer and petition—with thanksgiving. 4:7 And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

9C. 1 Timothy 2:1-4

2:1 First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people, 2:2 even for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 2:3 Such prayer for all is good and welcomed before God our Savior, 2:4 since he wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

9C. James 1:5-8

1:5 But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him. 1:6 But he must ask in faith without doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed around by the wind. 1:7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, 1:8 since he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

10C. Questions

1. What did God encourage Jeremiah to ask for? What promise did He attach to it? How can that apply to us today? Read the context of Jeremiah 33.

2. What does the Lord encourage us to pray for in Matthew 9:37-38? How is this related to the pattern for prayer he gave us? Cf. Matthew 6:10?

3. According to Luke 6:28 how are we to treat our enemies? Who is an enemy and what would you pray for him/her/them?

4. Why does the Son answer our prayers according to John 14:13? How does that relate to asking in “Christ’s name”?

5. What does Paul pray for King Agrippa? How does this relate to Romans 10:13?=

6. Praying for the growth of believers can be very exciting as we watch God work in their lives. What is the ultimate goal for which Paul prays for churches in Ephesians 3:14-21? How does verse 20 relate to his prayer? We often detach verse 20 from its immediate context, and it is true that God can do amazing things, but what is Paul’s point in verse 20 as it stands in Ephesians 3:14-21? How does this relate to the basic point of 2:11-22 and living with Christians who are in many ways different than we are?

7. According to Philippians 4:6 what attitude does Paul prohibit us from sowing to? What, instead, are we to do? How does “thanksgiving”—a common theme in biblically oriented prayer—relate to anxiety and what do both thanksgiving and anxiety reveal about the nature of our belief concerning God’s goodness and power?

8. What does God promise us in Phil 4:7 and how does it relate to our circumstances and His sovereign control (see Romans 5:1-5 and 8:28-29)?

9. Who are we commanded to pray for in 1 Timothy 2:1-2? Why should we pray for them (2:2b-4)?

10. James says that we can ask God for wisdom to know how to live righteously in any and every circumstance. What is the condition for such a prayer to be answered?

11. We are told by James to ask for wisdom from God and that God will give freely. But people easily doubt the wisdom that comes from God (James 1:6-8). Why is this so? Could it be connected to the nature of God’s wisdom for us (James 3:17)? NOTE: It is fallen human nature to ask for something and then doubt the answer when it seems difficult or unpleasant. For example, James’ advice to “rejoice” in our trials hardly meets with approval among most people, yet it is God’s wisdom. To doubt it is to walk in unbelief and eventual chastisement. To do it is to trust and be rewarded (James 1:22). To rejoice in our trials is to walk in the Spirit wrought conviction that God cares, is wise, and knows what he’s doing.

8B. The Problems of Prayer

1C. Mark 14:38

14:38 Stay awake and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

2C. Luke 20:45-47

20:45 As all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, 20:46 “Beware of the experts in the law. They like walking around in long robes, and they love elaborate greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 20:47 They devour widows’ property, and as a show make long prayers. They will receive a more severe punishment.”

3C. Questions

1. What is the problem in Mark 14:38? Have you ever experienced this? Why is preservation from temptation linked with prayer? What does this teach you about our responsibility in sanctification (see e.g. Phil 2:12-13)?

2. Luke 20:45-47 presents another problem in prayer. What is it? What does Jesus say will happen to those who flaunt their prayers in this way? Why? What do they demonstrate about themselves when they consistently pray with open and flagrant demonstrations of personal religious achievement? Are they stealing the glory due to God alone (Isa 42:8; John 5:44).

IIA. Synthesis, Practical Applications, and Training

1B. Meditate

1C. Review the Truths about Prayer
2C. Organize the Truths in Your Mind

2B. Restate

1C. State the Essential Truth about the Meaning of Prayer
2C. Bring in Other Biblical Ideas about Prayer

3B. Relate

1C. To Other Biblical Doctrines
2C. To Your Life: How? When? Where? Why? Who? What?

4B. Formulate

1C. Ongoing Applications
1D. Daily Prayer in Quiet Time: ACTS (Time, Place)
2D. Developing a Prayer Journal (Attention/Purpose/Watchfulness)
3D. Spontaneous Prayer throughout the Day
4D. Praying Psalms
5D.
6D.
2C. Special Applications
1D. Prayer Map of the World
2D. Praise Prayer (Music)
3D. Prayer Partners
4D. Extended Times in Prayer
5D. Special Family or Church Prayer Times
6D. Read Books on Prayer (e.g., George Muller; Missionaries)
7D.
8D.
3C. Training Objectives and Activities

Objective: To help the person establish the habit of concentrated prayer each day as well as the habit of routinely initiating spontaneous prayer.

1D. Pray with the person you’re helping.
2D. Take the person to a prayer meeting and discuss it later.
3D. Show the person how to pray using Scripture.
4D. Share answered prayer requests with him.
5D. Share struggles with prayer and pray together about them.
6D. Etc.
Ad Category: 
Biblical Topics: 

13. Mastering A Plan for Formal Time Together: Worship

IA. A Bible Study on Worship

1B. The Nature of True Worship to God

1C. Deuteronomy 10:20-21

10:20 Revere the Lord your God, serve him, cleave to him and take oaths only in his name. 10:21 He is the object of your praise and your God, the one who has done these great and awesome things for you that you have seen.

2C. Joshua 24:15

24:15 If you have no desire to worship the Lord, choose today whom you will worship, whether it be the gods whom your ancestors worshiped beyond the river, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. But I and my family will worship the Lord!”

3C. Deuteronomy 12:4

12:4 You must not worship the Lord your God the way they worship.

4C. 1 Chronicles 16:29

16:9 Sing to him! Make music to him! Reflect on all his miraculous deeds! 16:10 Boast about his holy name! Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!.

5C. Isaiah 29:13

29:13 The sovereign master says, “These people say they are loyal to me; they say wonderful things about me, but they are not really loyal to me. Their worship consists of nothing but man-made ritual.

6C. John 4:23-24

4:23 But a time is coming—and now is here—when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such people to be his worshipers. 4:24 God is spirit, and the people who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

7C. Acts 13:2

13:2 While they were serving (i.e., worshipping) the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

8C. Acts 26:7

26:6 And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our ancestors, 26:7 a promise that our twelve tribes hope to attain as they earnestly serve God night and day.

9C. Philippians 3:3

3:3 For we are the circumcision, the ones who worship by the Spirit of God, exult in Christ Jesus, and do not rely on human credentials.

10C. Hebrews 12:28

12:28 So since we are receiving an unshakable kingdom, let us give thanks, and through this let us offer worship pleasing to God in devotion and awe. 12:29 For our God is indeed a devouring fire.

11C. Questions for Thought

1. In Deuteronomy 10:20-21, what do you think it means “to revere” the Lord God? What is the relationship between “revering” God and “serving” him? What does it mean to “cleave” to God? How do Paul’s words in Philippians 3:7-11ff. help explain this?

2. According to Joshua 24:15, human beings generally have no problem finding something to worship. But what does Joshua command the Israelites to do? What are some reasons why it is important to “choose” whom you will worship?

3. What does Deuteronomy 12:4 teach us about worshipping God? Answer: There is a right way and there are many wrong ways. Read the context to understand this a bit more.

4. What does 1 Chronicles 16:29 add to our understanding of worshipping God?

5. What does Isaiah 29:13 and John 4:23-24 teach about the worship of God? What do you think Jesus means by “truth” and why is important to God that we be concerned about truth in obedience and worship and not just mindlessly following man-made rules?

6. Notice the relationship between “serving” God and “worshipping” Him in the passages from Acts (i.e., 13:2; 26:7). Why do the two concepts stand so closely related? What else can you learn about worship from these passages?

7. Who is the one who enables us to worship in Phil 3:3? How is the worship of God in Phil 3:3 related to the idea of rejoicing or exulting in Christ Jesus?

2B. True Worship and Serving God

1C. Jeremiah 22:8-9

22:8 “‘People from other nations will pass by this city. They will ask one another, “Why has the Lord done such a thing to this great city?” 22:9 And the answer will come back, “It is because they quit following their agreement with the Lord their God and worshiped and served other gods.”

2C. Jeremiah 25:6

25:6 Do not pay allegiance to other gods and worship and serve them. Do not make me angry by the things that you do. Then I won’t cause you any harm.’

3C. Daniel 3:28

3:28 Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent forth his angel and has delivered his servants who trusted in him, ignoring the edict of the king and giving up their bodies rather than serve or worship any god other than their God!

4C. Jonah 2:8

2:8 Those who worship worthless idols forfeit the mercy that could be theirs.

5C. Matthew 6:24

6:24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

6C. Romans 12:1

12:1 Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice—alive, holy, and pleasing to God—which is your reasonable service (i.e., worship).

7C. 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10

1:9 For people everywhere report how you welcomed us and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God 1:10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus our deliverer from the coming wrath.

8C. Questions for Thought

1. Faithfulness to God’s commands is very important to him; true worship without obedience is an empty notion. What does Jeremiah 22:8-9 teach us about this? You may need to read the context a bit to answer this. Read Jeremiah 25:6 in the same light.

2. To what extent were Daniel and his friends willing to go in order to remain faithful to God? How is this a demonstration of genuine worship?

3. According to Jonah 2:8, what happens to us when we turn from sincere, true, and devout worship to the false worship of idols, i.e., idols of wood or any other idol, including money, position, sex, prestige, etc? Why is this a travesty?

4. Why is Jesus’ statement in Matthew 6:24 so difficult for many of us who live in North America? (NB: Jesus is not saying that some people worship and some do not. No, the truth of the matter is that all people worship; the question, then, is what or whom you worship, not “if.”

5. What is the foundation of our worship of God according to Romans 12:1? What does this text communicate about the cost involved in truly worshipping God? What kind of lives do we seek to live in order to express our single-minded devotion and worship of God? Relate this passage to Daniel 3:28.

6. What is the difference between idols, whether made of wood or not (e.g., power, money, sex) and God in 1 Thessalonians 1:9? How does truly worshipping God relate to “wait[ing] for his Son from heaven…”?

3B. The Conscience of the True Worshipper

1C. 2 Timothy 1:3

1:3 I am thankful to God, whom I have served with a clear conscience as my ancestors did, when I remember you in my prayers as I do constantly night and day.

2C. Hebrews 9:14

9:14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God.

3C. Hebrews 10:2

10:2 For otherwise would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers would have been purified once for all and so have no further consciousness of sin?

4C. Questions for Thought

1. How important is the conscience in the worship of God? Read 2 Timothy 1:3 and Hebrews 9:14. See also Acts 16:24. What happens to our faith and ability to trust God if we allow our consciences to be stained and defiled by sin?

2. In Hebrews 9:14 and 10:2 how has the cross of Christ made provision for guilty consciences and purification? Is there anything the Lord is speaking to you about through your conscience? Why do you think it is important to have your conscience educated through scripture study, prayer, faithfulness in meaningful relationships, and godly counsel?

4B. Examples of True and False Worship

1C. 1 Samuel 15:22-23

15:22 Then Samuel said, “Does the Lord take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as he does in obedience? Certainly, obedience is better than sacrifice; paying attention is better than the fat of rams.

2C. Matthew 15:9

15:8 ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me, 15:9 and they worship me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

3C. Revelation 4:9-11

4:9 And whenever the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to the one who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 4:10 the twenty-four elders throw themselves to the ground before the one who sits on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever, and they offer their crowns before his throne, saying: 4:11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, since you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created!”

4C. Revelation 15:4

15:4 Who will not fear you, O Lord, and glorify your name, because you alone are holy? All nations will come and worship before you for your righteous acts have been revealed.

5C. Questions for Thought

1. What does God think about those who claim to worship him yet consistently pay no regard to His word? Read 1 Samuel 15:22ff. We learned in Hebrews 9 and 10 that God has made provision for the guilt of sin in the death of his son, but we cannot knowingly persist in disobedience for it gives evidence of an unregenerate heart. We are to cleave to him in trust.

2. We already looked at Matthew 15:9 above. What does the passage mean when it says “they worship me in vain”?

3. Why does John in Rev 4:9-11 repeat the fact that God “lives forever and ever” in a context of worship? Why do you think that’s an important emphasis? What do the twenty-four elders do and what do they proclaim about God?

4. What does Revelation 15:4 say about God? What does the word “holy” mean? How would you relate this to God’s love? (Some Christians never seem to bring those two ideas together very well. Why do you suppose this is so?)

5B. Judgement for False Worship

1C. Acts 7:42

7:42 But God turned away from them and gave them over to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets: ‘It was not to me that you offered slain animals and sacrifices forty years in the wilderness, was it, house of Israel?

2C. Acts 17:23

17:22 So Paul stood before the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I see that you are very religious in all respects. 17:23 For as I went around and observed closely your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: ‘To an unknown god.’ Therefore what you worship without knowing it, this I proclaim to you.

3C. Romans 1:25-26

1:25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 1:26 For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions.

4C. 1 Corinthians 10:14, 22

10:14 So then, my dear friends, flee from idolatry…10:22 Or are we trying to provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we really stronger than he is?

5C. Questions for Thought

1. In Acts 7:42 what does Stephen say God did to those who really wanted to worship creation rather than the creator? How does this relate to Paul’s comments in Romans 1:23-25 as well as the gross ignorance and idolatry of the men of the Areopagus in Acts 17:22?

2. What does Paul say about God’s response to his children when they wander into any form of idolatry? In 1 Corinthians 10:14 what are we commanded to do with respect to idolatry? If you are convinced by the Lord that something you’re doing is idolatrous, what would it look like for you to flee? What kind of pressures keep you from fleeing? How does genuine faith in God play a key role in forsaking an idol(s)?

IIA. Synthesis, Practical Applications, and Training

1B. Meditate

Meditate on the material using the questions that are listed as well as any others you think of. Begin the process of relating passages one to another in order to begin to understand the flow of the Bible’s teaching on this issue.

2B. Restate

Restate the main emphasis of the Bible’s teaching on worship in a single sentence.

3B. Relate

Relate the Bible’s teaching on worship, then, to other doctrines that you know in the Bible. Try and “see-things-together” in order to form a consistent whole. Be careful not to water down passages in order to make a nice synthetic statement; let each passage speak on its own (i.e., from its own context first). Also relate the passage to your life theoretically. Ask yourself what your life would look like if you began to apply some of these scriptural truths.

4B. Formulate

1C. Ongoing Applications
1D. Ask God to give you a perfect heart toward him and strength to focus on him.
2D. Worship Him in music and praise.
3D. Memorize two verses on worship. Meditate on them and draw strength for worshipping God in spirit and truth.
4D. Practice the presence of God for five minutes without allowing your mind to get sidetracked. Use a psalm to help.
5D. Offer all your work and service as worship to the Lord.
6D.
7D.
2C. Special Applications
1D. Attend a weekend praise conference.
2D. Attend a conference or course that deals with the meaning and centrality of worship in the healthy Christian life.
3D.
4D.
3C. Training Objectives and Activities

Objective: The disciple will understand that all of life is to be viewed as worship to the Lord and they will deal with any “idols” in their life by confessing and renouncing them (i.e., turn away from them to worship God) in their thoughts, attitudes, and habits.

1D. Share the blessings of extended times of worship with the new Christian.
2D. Worship the Lord together in prayer and music.
3D. Help the new believer secure music which helps him to worship and which is Biblically accurate and Christ-centered.
4D. Talk about the dangers of moving away from the heartfelt and sincere worship of God alone.
5D. Talk about the dangers of idolatry in its myriad of forms and how it deadens the heart toward God.
6D.
7D.

14. Mastering A Plan for Formal Time Together—Quiet Time

IA. A Bible Study on the Quiet Time

1B. The Needs of Man

1C. Pre-Fall: Man’s Need to Hear from God and Fellowship with Him
1D. Genesis 1:28-30

1:28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply! Fill the earth and subdue it! Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every creature that moves on the ground. 1:29 Then God said, “I now give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the entire earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 1:30 And to all the animals of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food. It was so.

2D. Genesis 2:8-9, 15-17

2:8 The Lord God planted an orchard in the east, in Eden; and there he placed the man he had formed. 2:9 The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow from the soil, every tree that was pleasing to look at and good for food. (Now the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil were in the middle of the orchard.)…2:15 The Lord God took the man and placed him in the orchard in Eden to care for and maintain it. 2:16 Then the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat fruit from every tree of the orchard, 2:17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will surely die.”

3D. Questions for Thought

1. Why do you think it was necessary for God to speak to Adam and Eve before the Fall? Weren’t they holy at that time?

2. To what areas of life does God speak in Genesis 1:28-30? How does that relate to today?

3. God’s word in Genesis 1:28-30 is a pronouncement of blessing and the issuing of certain commands. What new element is added to God’s word of command in Genesis 2:17? What does this teach you about hearing and listening to God’s word?

4. The words of God in Genesis presuppose that man has a relationship with God and can respond in that context. Why is a regular Quiet Time important in that light?

2C. Post-Fall: Man’s Need to Hear from God and Fellowship with Him
1D. Genesis 3:8

3:8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God moving about in the orchard at the breezy time of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the orchard.

2D. Verbal Revelation, Events, Theophanies, Visions, Jesus Christ

God has revealed himself in a diversity of ways according to (and in) Scripture. Hebrews 1:3 says that God spoke in times past in “many ways and in diverse manners.” He spoke directly with Adam and Eve, with Noah and with Abraham, for example. He also manifested himself through many different events, the primary one being the exodus of his people from Egypt (Exodus 12-15). Further, there were times throughout the OT that he revealed himself through theophanies, i.e., visible and audible manifestations (e.g., Genesis 18:1-2; Exodus 3:1-3), dreams (Genesis 28:10-17; 37:5-11; Daniel 2) and visions (Gen 15:1; 1 Chron 17:15; Acts 10). Supremely he has revealed himself in the incarnation (John 1:1, 14-18).

3D. Questions for Thought

1. What does Genesis 3:8 teach you about God’s desire to be with his people?

2. How do Adam and Eve respond to God’s presence after they’ve sinned, i.e., knowingly broke a commandment of God? What does it mean to try and hide from an omniscient and omnipresent God (cf. Jer 23:24)? How do we typically respond to God’s word and presence when we experience guilt for sin (cf. Jonah 1:1-3)? What do we need to do in this case (1 John 1:9)? How can a regular Quiet Time help with this (John 13:9-10)?

3. God has revealed himself in a great number of ways in the past. What does this teach you about Him? How has he finally and decisively revealed himself and what record do we have of that? How is the record itself (i.e., the Bible) a revelation from God (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21)? How does this last truth relate to a Quiet Time and hearing God’s voice?

2B. Examples of Godly Men

1C. Moses (Exodus 33:7-11)

33:7 Moses took the tent and pitched it outside the camp, at a good distance from the camp; and he called it the tent of meeting. And anyone seeking the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting that was outside the camp. 33:8 And when Moses went out to the tent, all the people would get up and stand at the entrance to their tents, and they would watch Moses until he entered the tent. 33:9 And whenever Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses. 33:10 When all the people would see the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people, each one at the entrance of his tent, would rise and worship. 33:11 And the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And then Moses would return to the camp; but his servant, Joshua son of Nun, a young man, did not leave the tent.

2C. David (Psalm 63:6)

63:6 whenever I remember you on my bed, and think about you during the nighttime hours.

3C. Daniel (Daniel 6:10)

6:10 When Daniel realized that a written decree had been issued, he entered his home, where the windows in his upper room opened toward Jerusalem. Three times daily he was kneeling and offering prayers and thanks to his God just as he had been accustomed to do previously.

4C. The Early Church (Acts 2:42)

2:42 They were devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

5C. Peter (Acts 3:1; 10:9)

3:1 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time for prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon.

10:9 About noon the next day, while they were on their way and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray.

6C. Paul (Acts 16:16)

16:16 Now as we were going to the place of prayer, a slave girl met us who had a spirit that enabled her to foretell the future by supernatural means. She brought her owners a great profit by fortune-telling.

7C. Questions for Thought

1. According to Exodus 33:7-11 Moses enjoyed great privilege before God and frequent access to his thrilling presence. But through Christ we now live in the holy of holies, through his Spirit (1 Cor 3:16; Eph 2:18; Heb 10:19-25). God will speak to us “face to face” through his word if we draw aside and humbly accept his word to us (James 1:21; 1 Peter 2:1-3). This is great motivation for investing the effort to seek God in a Quiet Time.

2. In Psalm 63:6, when did David think about God? Following his example, what could you do along similar lines?

3. What drove Daniel with passion to be alone with God and seek his face? Was this a one time thing for Daniel? What things in your life is God using to bring you to himself in a meaningful and radical way? What things in your culture cause you to want to go to God and seek his guidance? Are you letting him have his way? Meet with him to discern what’s going on in your life and the lives of those around you. Let the Quiet Time with God be the center of your relationship with him and out of that minister love to those in need in your circle of influence. Think of the Quiet Time as a chance to spend time with someone you love.

4. What four elements were essential in the early church’s meetings? How much better would our local church involvement be if throughout the week we sought God on a daily and regular basis?

5. NOTE: Sometimes God will reveal extremely important things to you as you meditate on his word and pray. Of course, he revealed the “inclusion of the Gentiles into the church” to Peter through a vision (Peter sought him in prayer and God revealed his will). He may do that sort of thing for you, but again his primary method (not the only method, however; for God also uses the people of God and circumstances) for leading and guiding his people is through marrying His inspired word (i.e., Scripture) to our hearts and consciences through his indwelling Spirit.

6. In Acts 16:16 Luke says that Paul and he were going to find a place of prayer. It is clear that Paul and Luke understood that seeking God must be done on a regular basis. It is indeed a habit of holiness. How does this relate to your life and the discipline of Quiet Time?

3B. The Example of Jesus

1C. Mark 1:35

1:35 Then Jesus got up early in the morning when it was still very dark, departed, and went out to a deserted place, and there he spent time in prayer.

2C. Matthew 4:4

4:4 But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

3C. Matthew 14:23/Mark 6:46

14:23 And after he sent the crowds away, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.

4C. Luke 5:15-16

5:15 But the news about him spread even more, and large crowds were gathering together to hear him and to be healed of their illnesses. 5:16 Yet Jesus himself frequently withdrew to the wilderness and prayed.

5C. Luke 6:12

6:12 Now it was during this time that he went out to the mountain to pray, and he spent all night in prayer to God.

6C. Luke 9:18

9:18 Once when Jesus was praying by himself, and his disciples were nearby, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”

7C. Luke 11:1

11:1 Now Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he stopped, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

8C. Questions for Thought

1. What does Mark 1:35 teach you about Jesus’ need to be with the Father and his phenomenal commitment to ensure that he was? Read earlier in Mark 1 and describe the context of Mark 1:35. Busy-ness is a part of living in our society, but we must take steps, as best we can, to ensure that his word does not get choked out of our lives.

2. In Joshua 1:8 the Lord told Joshua that success in his obedience and ministry before the Lord was tied to his meditation on the word of God. In Matthew 4:4 what does Jesus say about that Word? What is the context of Jesus’ statement in Matthew 4:1-11? Quiet Time is a good place to practice the presence of God through meditation on his word.

3. What does Matthew 14:23 and especially Luke 5:15-16 and 6:12 say about Jesus and his relationship with God? Why do you think Jesus prayed so much? What does that seem to imply about our relationship with God?

4. What occurred as a result of Jesus praying so often? Read Luke 11:1.

4B. A Practical Suggestion

I suggest not trying to read through the Bible in one year in your Quiet Time. This means reading three of four chapters at a time and most people take quite a long time to do that. Rather, read a psalm or a paragraph in the Gospels or Paul and meditate on that. See if there are Sins to forsake, Promises to claim, Errors to avoid, Examples to follow, something new about God (the Father, Son, or Spirit). Pray before reading the passage and then pray while reading through it. After you have done this, worship and adore the Lord in praise and prayer (using music is helpful). Then pray for your various concerns including job, family, friends, etc.

The entire Quiet Time could take 10 minutes or 30 or more; the goal is to know and honor God and benefit your spiritual life and growth. For further help on studying and understanding the Bible, see my “How To Study A Book of the Bible” at the website: www.bible.org.

IIA. Synthesis, Practical Applications, and Training

1B. Meditate

2B. Restate

3B. Relate

4B. Formulate

1C. Ongoing Applications
1D. To have a Quiet Time each day.
2D. To establish a Bible reading program to use in your Quiet Time.
3D. To practice the habit of writing in a journal.
4D. To be able to help another have a consistent Quiet Time.
5D. To have one Quiet Time a week with your spouse.
6D.
7D.
2C. Special Applications
1D. To organize a weekend retreat focusing on and practicing Quiet Time.
2D. To read a book devoted to this subject.
3D.
4D.
3C. Training Objective and Activities

Objective: to help the new believer establish the daily habit of drawing aside to hear from God and fellowship with Him (1 Cor 1:9).

1D. Have one Quiet Time together each week for a predetermined period of time.
2D. Share your Quiet Time blessings with a new believer.
3D.
4D.
Ad Category: 

15. Mastering A Plan for Formal Time Together—Fasting

IA. A Bible Study on Fasting

1B. The Nature of True and False Fasting

1C. Isaiah 58:1-9a

58:1 “Shout loudly! Don’t be quiet! Yell as loud as a trumpet! Confront my people with their rebellious deeds; confront Jacob’s family with their sin! 58:2 They seek me day after day; they want to know my requirements, like a nation that does what is right and does not reject the law of their God. They ask me for just decrees; they want to be near God. 58:3 They lament, ‘Why don’t you notice when we fast? Why don’t you pay attention when we humble ourselves?’ Look, at the same time you fast, you satisfy your selfish desires, you oppress your workers. 58:4 Look, your fasting is accompanied by arguments, brawls, and fist fights. Do not fast as you do today, trying to make your voice heard in heaven. 58:5 Is this really the kind of fasting I want? Do I want a day when people just humble themselves, bowing their heads like a reed and stretching out on sackcloth and ashes? Is this really what you call a fast, a day that is pleasing to the Lord? 58:6 No, this is the kind of fast I want. I want you to remove the sinful chains, to tear away the ropes of the burdensome yoke, to set free the oppressed, and to break every burdensome yoke. 58:7 I want you to share your food with the hungry and to provide shelter for homeless, oppressed people. When you see someone naked, clothe him! Don’t turn your back on your own flesh and blood! 58:8 Then your light will shine like the sunrise; your restoration will quickly arrive; your godly behavior will go before you, and the Lord’s splendor will be your rear guard. 58:9 Then you will call out, and the Lord will respond; you will cry out, and he will reply, ‘Here I am.’ You must remove the burdensome yoke from among you.

2C. Jeremiah 14:12

14:12 Even if they fast, I will not hear their cries for help. And even if they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Instead, I will kill them through wars, famines, and plagues.”

3C. Zechariah 7:1-5

7:1 In King Darius’s fourth year, on the fourth day of Kislev, the ninth month, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah. 7:2 Now the people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regem-Melech and their companions to seek the Lord’s favor 7:3 by asking the priests of the sovereign Lord’s temple and the prophets, “Should we weep in the fifth month, fasting as we have done over the years?” 7:4 The word of the sovereign Lord then came to me, 7:5 “Speak to all the people and priests of the land as follows: ‘When you fasted and lamented in the fifth and seventh months through all these seventy years, did you truly fast for me—for me, indeed?

4C. Matthew 6:16-18

6:16 “When you fast, do not look sullen like the hypocrites, for they make their faces unattractive so that people will see them fasting. I tell you the truth, they have their reward. 6:17 When you fast put oil on your head and wash your face 6:18 so that it will not be obvious to others when you are fasting, but only to your Father who is in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.

5C. Luke 18:11-12

18:11 The Pharisee stood and prayed about himself like this, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: extortionists, unrighteous people, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 18:12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.’

6C. Questions for Thought

1. What does Israel want from God in Isaiah 58:1-2? What is the connection between fasting and desiring to “hear” from God regarding his will and the establishment of justice?

2. If God does not condemn them for their fasting, what does he nonetheless say? What are some of the sins they were committing while they were fasting and what did God say about it?

3. What does this passage from Isaiah 58 teach you about God, his requirement of holiness, the human heart, and fasting?

4. The Israelites were fasting in order to have their voice heard in heaven. This is a good thing, but not when it is done in a hypocritical fashion; God will not tolerate this kind of foolishness. As Paul says, “let us call on the Lord with a pure heart…” (2 Tim 2:22).

5. If we do fast with a pure and single-minded heart (cf. Matt 6:16), dealing ruthlessly with known sin (after all, Paul did say to put it to death) by the power of the Spirit (Rom 8:13), and returning kindness and justice in our land, what is God’s promise to the church in Isaiah 58:8-9?

6. Read the context of Jeremiah 14:12 (e.g., chapter 14). How does this passage relate to that in Isaiah 58? How serious is God about our sin? What does God promise the nation of Israel after he had disciplined them and they repented (see Jer 31:31-33)? What does he promise us as well (see 1 John 1:9)?

7. When we fast (not “if” we fast) what is a question we must keep before us according to Zechariah 7:5?

8. According to Matthew 6:16-18 who is the One we are truly seeking when we fast? What does God promise us if we fast only to please him?

9. In Luke 18:11-12 what is the problem Jesus has with the Pharisee’s fasting? It was certainly not that he was fasting, per se, for even in the new wine of the kingdom there is a need for fasting until the consummation and our reuniting with the bridegroom (Matt 9:14-17)? But, Jesus says that in light of his coming, fasting must be done in the present experience of the kingdom and with the power of the Spirit (see below).

2B. The Church and Fasting

1C. Matthew 9:14-17—New Fasting in Light of Jesus’ Return to the Father

9:14 Then John’s disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples don’t fast?” 9:15 Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot mourn while the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days are coming when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and then they will fast. 9:16 No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, because the patch will pull away from the garment and the tear will be worse. 9:17 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the skins will burst and the wine will pour out and the skins will be destroyed. Instead they put new wine into new wineskins and both are preserved.”

2C. Luke 11:20/17:20-37—The “Now/Not-Yet” of Kingdom Experience

11:20 But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come on you.

17:20 Now at one point the Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God was coming, so he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, 17:21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”17:22 Then he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. 17:23 Then people will say to you, ‘Look, there he is!’ or ‘Look, here he is!’ Do not go out or chase after them. 17:24 For just like the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. 17:25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. 17:26 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so too it will be in the days of the Son of Man. 17:27 People were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage—right up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. 17:28 Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot, people were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building; 17:29 but on the day Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. 17:30 It will be the same on the day the Son of Man is revealed. 17:31 On that day, anyone who is on the roof, with his goods in the house, must not come down to take them away, and likewise the person in the field must not turn back. 17:32 Remember Lot’s wife! 17:33 Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it. 17:34 I tell you, in that night there will be two people in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 17:35 There will be two women grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.” 17:37 Then the disciples said to him, “Where, Lord?” He replied to them, “Where the dead body is, there the vultures will gather.”

3C. Colossians 2:16, 20-23—Fasting Not Merely Asceticism

2:16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you with respect to food or drink, or in the matter of a feast, new moon, or Sabbath days…2:20 If you have died with Christ to the elemental spirits of the world, why do you submit to them as though you lived in the world? 2:21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” 2:22 These are all destined to perish with use, founded as they are on human commands and teachings. 2:23 They have the appearance of wisdom with their self-imposed worship and false humility, by an unsparing treatment of the body, but they are thoroughly useless when it comes to restraining the indulgences of the flesh.

4C. 1 Timothy 4:1-5—Food Is Good

4:1 Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the later times some will desert the faith and occupy themselves with deceiving spirits and demonic teachings, 4:2 influenced by the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared. 4:3 They will prohibit marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4:4 For every creation of God is good and no food is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving. 4:5 For it is sanctified by God’s word and by prayer.

5C. Questions for Thought

1. What does Jesus say about fasting in Matthew 9:14-17? Does he say that his disciples will fast when he departs? What then can he mean when he says “no one pours new wine into old wine skins”? He cannot mean that fasting is no longer necessary since that makes v. 15 virtually unintelligible. He must be referring to a new and better way of fasting, i.e., fasting and mourning for his return and the full realization of the kingdom. It is acceptable to fast for Messiah’s coming in any situation, whether for his first advent, as in the case of John the Baptist, or in the hope of his second coming, as in our case today. But it is not necessary to fast while he is here, and that is what John’s disciples misunderstood and the Pharisees rejected.

2. What do you learn about the kingdom of God in Luke 11:20? Was it present in Jesus’ ministry? So Jesus (and Paul; Col 1:13-14) spoke about the inaugural form of the kingdom and the coming of the Spirit (cf. John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13-14).

3. What does Jesus say about the kingdom in Luke 17:20-37? This passage refers to a future consummation of the kingdom—a greater and permanent realization of its presence, power, and transforming nature—at the return of Christ. See Matthew 8:10-11; Rom 8:23.

4. Read Colossians 2:16, 20-23 and describe the problem in Colossae. Relate this to what you have learned about fasting. Do the same with 1 Timothy 4:1-5. What are some dangers to be avoided here?

3B. The Purpose and Blessing of Fasting

1C. To Seek God with all Our Hearts and Minds

We fast because our hearts are hungry for him alone and because we know that food, while a good thing in God’s sight, can become an idol (cf. Matt 5:6; 1 Cor 6:12-13; Phil 3:19; 1 Tim 4:4-5), blunting our experience of the Spirit’s Christ-centered ministry. Thus people do not need to wait until a crisis to fast—though proper fasting at these times is very important—we can and ought to fast as often as we want to and feel we need to. In short, when we fast (food or whatever), we are fasting with our hearts directed toward him because we love him, we want to hear his voice more clearly (cf. Dan 9:9-14; John 10:4-5), experience his power more intimately (cf. Phil 3:10-11), walk with him in greater obedience, and see our prayers for personal, family and societal change answered (cf. 2 Chron 7:14).

2C. Weaken the Flesh

Fasting, from both food and other pleasures in life, can bring us in touch with our frailty and neediness as creatures before God. Insofar as this is our experience, we can realize a greater nearness to the Lord in prayer and worship. This is, in part, the purpose for fasting; it weakens the flesh and its power over our wills.

3C. To Focus Our Prayer Life

Again, to the degree that fasting softens our heart and does not elevate in arrogance (cf. Luke 18:11-12), it helps to focus our awareness on the presence of the Lord when we pray. This can lead to an incredible sense of the Spirit’s presence and power. This, of course, ought to be translated into prayer and praise, obedience to Christ, and gracious ministry to others, lest fasting become an end in itself.

4C. To Quicken True Guilt for Sin

Unconfessed sin has a deadening effect on our conscience, mind, will, emotions, and spiritual vitality; it separates us from intimate fellowship with our God and it seriously impairs our God-given mandate to minister grace, truth and love to those within the Christian community and those outside. Sincere, scripturally informed, and Spirit-led fasting should usher in a confession of all known sin, repentance from it, and a desire to live righteously and with justice and mercy in the world. In this sense true fasting quickens true guilt for unconfessed sin and when directed by the Spirit leads to deeper love for Christ, his people, and his purposes in the world. Cherishing known sin in our hearts while we claim to be truly fasting is at best incomplete and at worst hypocrisy of the sort that received some of the sternest words of our Lord; for those who engage in it today, there still remains his warning and his loving (but heavy) hand of chastening.

5C. To Foster Greater Intimacy with and Dependence on Christ

True fasting ultimately leads to a deeper intimacy with Christ and a consciousness of dependence on him for any spiritual good in our lives (cf. John 15:5).

4B. Examples of Fasting

1C. 2 Chronicles 20:1-30

20:1 Later the Moabites and Ammonites, along with some of the Meunites, attacked Jehoshaphat. 20:2 Messengers arrived and reported to Jehoshaphat, “A huge army is attacking you from the other side of the Dead Sea, from the direction of Edom. Look, they are in Hazezon Tamar (that is, En Gedi).” 20:3 Jehoshaphat was afraid, so he decided to seek the Lord’s advice. He decreed that all Judah should observe a fast. 20:4 The people of Judah assembled to ask for the Lord’s help; they came from all the cities of Judah to ask for the Lord’s help.

2C. Acts 13:1-4

13:1 Now there were these prophets and teachers in the church at Antioch: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius the Cyrenian, Manaen (a close friend of Herod the tetrarch from childhood) and Saul. 13:2 While they were serving the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 13:3 Then, after they had fasted and prayed and placed their hands on them, they sent them off. 13:4 So Barnabas and Saul, sent out by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.

3C. Acts 14:23

14:23 When they had appointed elders for them in the various churches, with prayer and fasting they entrusted them to the protection of the Lord in whom they had believed.

4C. Questions for Thought

1. In what connection did Jehoshaphat proclaim a fast? What are some situations in which we as individual believers and especially as communities of believers should come together to fast and seek God. I think we should be fasting and seeking him for our personal lives, families, communities, nations, and indeed his world. Let us mount up, by his grace, and seek him with all our hearts! Let us come before the Lord with righteous fasting and pleading for his will to be done in our homes and nations (cf. 1 Tim 2:1-6).

2. What did God do for the church in Antioch when they worshiped and fasted? What was the result of the Spirit selecting Paul and Barnabas (read the rest of the book of Acts!).

3. How did Paul go about the process of choosing elders for the churches in Acts 14:23? What other factors besides fasting were involved?

IIA. Synthesis, Practical Applications, and Training

1B. Meditate

2B. Restate

3B. Relate

4B. Formulate

1C. Ongoing Applications
1D. Fast (food) one day a week for several weeks.
2D. Fast (T.V.) for one week
3D.
4D.
2C. Special Applications
1D. Extended fasts because of important decisions
2D. Extended fasts in light of missions thrust
3D. Extended fasts because of personal and family problems
4D. Extended fasts for times of national crisis and church struggles
3C. Training Objectives and Applications

Objective: The disciple will understand and appreciate the Biblical role of fasting and will regularly practice it to the glory of God.

1D. Make sure the new believer understands what fasting is and what it is not.
2D. If there are any medical reasons that prohibit fasting food, then, of course, do not fast food. Fast something else.
3D. Share your experience of fasting together and encourage one another in the pursuit of God.
Ad Category: 
Biblical Topics: 

16. Mastering A Plan for Formal Time Together—Serving and Spiritual Giftedness

IA. A Bible Study on Serving and Spiritual Giftedness

1B. Serving and Proper Motivation: Our Gracious Election, Calling, Sanctification, and Hope

1C. Romans 7:6

7:6 But now we have been released from the law, because we have died to what controlled us, so that we may serve in the new life of the Spirit and not under the old written code.

2C. 2 Corinthians 5:15

5:15 And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised.

3C. Ephesians 2:8-10

2:8 For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 2:9 it is not of works, so that no one can boast. 2:10 For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them.

4C. 2 Timothy 2:20-21

2:20 Now in a great house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also ones made of wood and of clay, and some are for honorable use, but others rather ignoble. 2:21 So if someone cleanses himself of such behavior, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart, useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.

5C. Revelation 1:5-6

1:5 and from Jesus Christ—the faithful witness, the firstborn from among the dead, the ruler over the kings of the earth. To the one who loves us and has set us free from our sins at the cost of his own blood 1:6 and has appointed us as a kingdom, as priests serving his God and Father—to him be the glory and the power for ever and ever! Amen.

6C. Questions for Thought

1. In Romans 7:6 what do you think Paul means by the contrast between serving “in the new life of the Spirit” instead of “under the old written code”? If God’s law is “holy, righteous, and good” (7:12; 13:8-10), what does the apostle mean? Cf. Romans 7:14; 9:30-33).

2. The person who has “come to life” though their faith in Christ can really only have one genuine response. What is that in 2 Cor 5:15? What does it mean to live for Christ instead of for yourself? Whne you’re able sometime, read 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 and Romans 12:1-15:13, noting all the implications of living for Christ and His glory.

3. What is the relationship between salvation by grace through faith and good works in Ephesians 2:8-10? What do you think are some good works that Paul might be referring to?

4. Read the context of 2 Timothy 2:20-21. What is the “great house” to which Paul refers? What are some gold and silver vessels and some made of wood or clay? According to 2 Tim 2:20-21, what then is the condition for useful service to the Lord? How would further seminary education or Biblical and theological training help and/or hinder in this process?

5. Summarize the message of Revelation 1:5-6. How does this text relate to other passages you’ve already looked at in this section?

2B. The Nature of True Service to God and Man

1C. It Is Wise
1D. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

9:24 Do you not know that all the runners in a stadium compete, but only one receives the prize? So run to win. 9:25 Each competitor must exercise self-control in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. 9:26 So I do not run uncertainly or box like one who hits only air. 9:27 Instead I subdue my body and make it my slave, so that after preaching to others I myself will not be disqualified.

2D. 2 Corinthians 8:10-15, 20-21

8:10 So here is my opinion on this matter: it is to your advantage, since you made a good start last year both in your giving and your desire to give, 8:11 to finish what you started, so that just as you wanted to do it eagerly, you can also complete it according to your means. 8:12 For if the eagerness is present, the gift itself is acceptable according to whatever one has, not according to what he does not have. 8:13 For I do not say this so there would be relief for others and suffering for you, but as a matter of equality. 8:14 At the present time, your abundance will meet their need, so that one day their abundance may also meet your need, and thus there may be equality, 8:15 as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.” …8:20 We did this as a precaution so that no one should blame us in regard to this generous gift we are administering. 8:21 For we are concerned about what is right not only before the Lord but also before men.

2C. It Is Sacrificial and Loving
1D. 2 Corinthians 6:4-10

6:4 But as God’s servants, we have commended ourselves in every way, with great endurance, in persecutions, in difficulties, in distresses, 6:5 in beatings, in imprisonments, in riots, in troubles, in sleepless nights, in hunger, 6:6 by purity, by knowledge, by patience, by benevolence, by the Holy Spirit, by genuine love, 6:7 by truthful teaching, by the power of God, with weapons of righteousness both for the right hand and for the left, 6:8 through glory and dishonor, through slander and praise; regarded as impostors, and yet true; 6:9 as unknown, and yet well-known; as dying and yet—see!—we continue to live; as those who are scourged and yet not executed; 6:10 as sorrowful, but always rejoicing, as poor, but making many rich, as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

2D. Romans 12:1-2

12:1 Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice—alive, holy, and pleasing to God—which is your reasonable service. 12:2 Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God—what is good and well-pleasing and perfect.

3C. It Is Rooted in Personal Faith and Love for People
1D. 1 Corinthians 15:14, 20, 58

15:14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is futile and your faith is empty…15:20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 15:58 So then, dear brothers and sisters, be firm. Do not be moved! Always be outstanding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

2D. 1 Thessalonians 1:3

1:3 because we recall in the presence of our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and endurance of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

3D. Galatians 5:6

5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision carries any weight—the only thing that matters is faith working through love.

4C. It Is Single-Minded: Seeking Christ’s Glory
1D. 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10

1:9 For people everywhere report how you welcomed us and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God 1:10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus our deliverer from the coming wrath.

2D. 2 Timothy 2:4

2:4 No one in military service gets entangled in matters of everyday life; otherwise he will not please the one who recruited him.

3D. Luke 9:62

9:62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

4D. 2 Corinthians 4:5

4:5 For we do not proclaim ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake.

5D. Joshua 24:15

24:15 If you have no desire to worship the Lord, choose today whom you will worship, whether it be the gods whom your ancestors worshiped beyond the river, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. But as for me and my family, we will worship the Lord!”

5C. Questions for Thought

1. What does Paul mean when he says “run to win” in 1 Corinthians 9:24? How do we as Christians differ from those in the world (v. 25)? Why does Paul talk about “subduing the body” in a context of running well in the Christian life?

2. How does 2 Corinthians 8:10-15, 20-21 show that Paul tried to serve God wisely and for the greatest benefit to all? This is just one example of the way Paul served God. How does it help you?

3. Is there a cost in following Jesus, i.e., in serving him and others? Read 2 Corinthians 6:4-10. What are some of the ways in which Paul commended himself before the Lord and to the Corinthians? How is Paul’s ministry similar to that of Jesus? Notice how tested and proven character, as well as knowledge, is key to serving God properly.

4. According to Romans 12:1, in light of what truth are we supposed to present ourselves to God for service? What kind of sacrifice is Paul talking about? How is it possible to be a “living” sacrifice? Why is serving God the “reasonable service” of an informed Christian? What two commands does Paul give in 12:2? When we obey these two commands, what is the result? How is that related to serving God in 12:1?

5. According to 1 Corinthians 15:14, 20, 58, what is the relationship between “working for the Lord” and Christ’s resurrection? Why is this so important to understand and remember (cf. 15:58)?

6. How do you think faith and love are related to each other? Read 1 Thessalonians 1:3, Galatians 5:6, and Colossians 1:3-8.

7. In 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 what is the nature of true service to God? In our day to day experience, what are some idols that seek to prevent us from worshipping the Lord unhindered and with sincerity of heart? What must we do with them?

8. What does 2 Timothy 2:4 communicate about single-mindedness in our service to the Lord? Does this mean that we can have no hobbies?

9. What does Jesus mean by “look back” in Luke 9:62? What do you think would happen to a farmer, who having hooked up the oxen and now plowing along, kept looking behind him? In what ways do we “look back” and what are we told to do about it (cf. 1 John 1:9)?

10. According to 2 Corinthians 4:5, what confession stands at the heart of all our service?

11. How is Joshua a model for us? Read Joshua 24:1-28.

3B. Christ as the Model Servant

1C. Mark 10:45

10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

2C. Philippians 2:5-11

2:5 You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had, 2:6 who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, 2:7 but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. 2:8 He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross! 2:9 As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 2:10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow—in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 2:11 and every tongue confess to the glory of God the Father that Jesus Christ is Lord.

3C. Questions for Thought

1. Summarize the message of Mark 10:45? What is the ultimate sacrifice in serving God? Why is even this unacceptable to God if it is not done for love’s sake? Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-12.

2. The pattern of “the Servant” in Philippians 2:6-11 is humility, service, suffering, death, and then exaltation. In general, what does this mean for those of us who claim to follow Christ?

4B. Struggles with Service

1C. Fatigue

Fatigue in serving Christ can result from a number of things. First, sometimes we’re physically tired simply from travelling, staying up late with people, working hard at conferences, discipling people in difficult situations etc. What we need to do in these cases, is, as we’re able, simply get back on track with our sleep. Remember, as far as we know, we’ll be serving Christ for many years, i.e., if he tarries and if he permits us breath! This could be a long time; so serve him wholeheartedly knowing that it must be done wisely. Don’t kill the horse so that you can no longer deliver the message! Second, there are times when we are emotionally tired as a result of any number of issues we’ve had to deal with. One that we need to be careful for involves serving the wrong master. Recently we had a leadership meeting at our church to see how everyone was doing. One person in particular was quite distraught as a result of the emotional fatigue incurred through serving into the same depressing situation for a long period of time. But, she came to realize that while the situation was indeed difficult, she had been serving out of wrong motives, i.e., out of a need for personal acceptance and recognition. Now before you judge her too quickly, bear in mind that serving Christ is difficult at times and motivations get fouled up in the process. However, when she sought Christ in repentance, the difficulties were not removed, but she regained a renewed sense of emotional and physical strength. Remember too that often there is a fairly direct link between emotional and physical tiredness.

2C. Ineffectiveness

This is a difficult problem to assess, since effectiveness ultimately comes from the Lord. We plant and sow, but “God causes the growth” (1 Cor 3:7). Nonetheless, as 1 Cor 9:24-27 talks about, there is a need to evaluate our effectiveness or lack thereof. One of the best ways to go about this, besides asking other leaders and people you respect for help (including reading good books), is to begin a dialectical process of going back and forth from scripture to your experience and from your experience back to scripture. In other words, prayerfully do ministry and then prayerfully read about it in scripture (cf. 2 Tim 3:14-17). Get this dialogue going with God, yourself, and scripture and do so in light of the ministry in order to see what God has to show you.

3C. Being Treated Like A Servant

A common occurrence related to being a servant of Christ is the rather stinging and unpleasant experience of actually being treated like a servant! Imagine that! Those who are walking with God realize their calling as Christ’s servants, but not many of us enjoy being treated like servants. Well, if you are really serving Christ, this will always be part of the experience. Now as a leader, there are times when it is entirely appropriate to speak into someone’s life—someone who consciously or unconsciously survives on the service of others, but never lifts a hand to help—gently rebuking and encouraging them to “step up to the plate” and begin to serve their Lord and his people (1 Peter 4:10). Remember too, that as servants of our humble and mighty savior, Jesus Christ, we have never been, in principle, anywhere that he has not already been.

4C. Difficulty Finding a Niche

Some people want God to show them where to serve, and until he does, they’re content to do nothing. This is wrong headed, for the Bible commands us to serve wherever we reasonably can and there are always more needs than can ever be met. Begin serving and from this posture ask God to show you your spiritual gift(s) and more specific areas of service and contribution. Do not sit there and do nothing! This can reflect unbelief and therefore disobedience. God’s leading often comes in our willingness to move out and trust him. So go and serve with all the faith in God and love for people he can work in you (Phil 2:12-13)!

5C. Questions for Thought

1. What are some of your struggles that prevent you from stepping out and boldly serving the Lord? What is the Lord teaching you through them?

2. Who could you ask to pray for you, that God might lead you into the ministries and good works he has prepared for you?

5B. Service and Spiritual Gifts

1C. General Service

All of us have been called as servants and should be serving the Lord and his people in some way on a regular basis. Such is a reasonable and timely response to grace. As I mentioned above, I feel that it is in the context of actually serving the Lord that he reveals to us special areas of service according to the gifts he has supplied to us. Through the advice of wise people, prayerful scriptural reflection, and circumstances—all three of which are organized for us by the indwelling Spirit of God—we will learn to walk in areas of service already marked out for us (see Ephesians 2:8-10).

2C. Specific Contributions: Using Your Gift in Humble Service
1D. Romans 12:3-8

12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to every one of you not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think, but to think with sober discernment, as God has distributed to each of you a measure of faith. 12:4 For just as in one body we have many members, and not all the members serve the same function, 12:5 so we who are many are one body in Christ, and individually we are members who belong to one another. 12:6 And we have different gifts, according to the grace given to us. If the gift is prophecy, that individual must use it in proportion to his faith. 12:7 If it is service, he must serve; if it is teaching, he must teach; 12:8 if it is exhortation, he must exhort; if it is contributing, he must do so with sincerity; if it is leadership, he must do so with diligence; if it is showing mercy, he must do so with cheerfulness.

2D. 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 (Eph 4)

12:4 Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. 12:5 And there are different ministries, but the same Lord. 12:6 And there are different results, but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. 12:7 To each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the benefit of all. 12:8 For one is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, and another the message of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 12:9 to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 12:10 to another performance of miracles, to another prophecy, and to another discernment of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 12:11 It is one and the same Spirit, distributing to each person as he decides, who produces all these things.

3D. 1 Peter 4:10

4:10 Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of the varied grace of God.

3C. Questions for Thought

1. We have already seen that Romans 12:3-8 really starts in 12:1-2 (and indeed in the first chapter of the book). In 12:1-2 we saw that in light of God’s mercy Christians are to offer themselves to Him for service. They are not to conform to this world but are to be transformed so that they can test and approve God’s will. In short, then, the context of 12:3-8 is personal and corporate holiness. This must never be forgotten, lest the gifts be sought after as an end in themselves. Thus there is no room for pride, but only sober judgment about one’s gifting (12:3). And we must also be continually reminded nowadays of the organic relationship between each member of the body and all the others (12:4-5). Keeping, then, these truths before us we are ready to proceed into a discussion concerning the diversity of the body and the exercise of the spiritual gifts in 12:6-8. What are the gifts that Paul mentions here? What accounts for the differences of gifts among members Christ’s body (12:6)? Do you think you have any of the gifts mentioned in this list? If so, what one and how can you develop it? NOTE: Some gifts, such as serving, are very broad in their application and may include any number of Spirit sponsored, godly activities that benefit the body. A good litmus test to discover your particular gifting includes (1) motivations in your heart; (2) the blessing of God on your attempts to serve; and (3) the encouragement of others.

2. Who is the author of the gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6? Why do you think Paul brings in the Trinity at this point? What does the Trinity teach us about God’s unity and diversity?

3. According to 1 Corinthians 12:7, what is the purpose for the spiritual gifts and are they given only to certain persons, i.e., perhaps those who are more holy than others?

4. In Romans 12:3-8, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4:7-16, and 1 Peter 4:10 what are some of the gifts God gives to his church? What does each one refer to and how would they function? NOTE: The precise meaning and function of some of the gifts (e.g., “a word of knowledge”) are difficult to be certain about. Ultimately they must be Spirit sponsored, gracious in their delivery, and used only for the benefit of others. They are not to be used for self-advancement.

5. Who decides who receives what gift(s) (12:11)? Read the list and rhetorical questions in 1 Corinthians 12:28-21? This is very important. Paul can command a church as a whole to let other gifts be exercised (14:39-40; 1 Thess 5:20), but he never commands a certain person to “get” a spiritual gift or even to ask for one. Surely this has some application to us today. Furthermore, spiritual gifts, as necessary, beautiful, and encouraging as they are, are nonetheless not the telltale sign of the presence of the Spirit. The genuine and true confession of Christ as Lord is the sign that one truly possesses the Spirit of God (1 Cor 12:1-3). I do not say this to denigrate God’s amazing grace (for his gifts are really specific, identifiable manifestations of his grace) in any way, but only to relate us rightly to it.

6. What command does Peter give us in 1 Peter 4:10? How does this relate to you right now?

6B. The Goal of Service

1C. To Bring Honor and Praise to Christ
1D. 1 Peter 4:11

Whoever speaks, let it be with God’s words. Whoever serves, do so with the strength that God supplies, so that in everything God will be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

2D. Colossians 3:23-24

3:23 Whatever you are doing, work at it with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not for people, 3:24 because you know that you will receive your inheritance from the Lord as the reward. Serve the Lord Christ.

2C. To Build His Body and Help People
1D. Ephesians 4:7-13, 16

4:7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 4:8 Therefore it says, When he ascended on high he took captives, he gave gifts to men.” (4:9 Now what is the meaning of “he ascended,” except that he also descended to the lower parts of the earth? 4:10 He, the very one who descended, is also the one who ascended above all the heavens, in order to fill all things.) 4:11 It was he who gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 4:12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ, 4:13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God—a mature person, attaining to the measure of Christ’s full stature.

2D. 1 Corinthians 12:7

12:7 To each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the benefit of all.

3C. Questions for Thought

1. What is the ultimate reason for the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Peter 4:11?

2. According to Colossians 3:23 in what manner are we to serve the Lord? Why (cf. 3:24)? What is the danger in serving men only, with our eyes fixed on pleasing them and with little or no thought given to pleasing God? How is this like idolatry?

3. Why were the various gifts given the church according to Ephesians 4:12-13 (See again 1 Cor 12:7)? How do the gifts relate to Christlikeness? Individual and corporate?

7B. Rewards for Service

1C. Now
1D. Mark 10:28-31

10:28 Peter began to speak to him, “Look, we have left everything to follow you!” 10:29 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, there is no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for my sake and for the sake of the gospel 10:30 who will not receive in this age a hundred times as much—homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, fields, all with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life. 10:31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

2D. 3 John 4

1:4 I have no greater joy than this: to hear that my children are living according to the truth.

3D. Philippians 1:25

1:25 And since I am sure of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for the sake of your progress and joy in the faith, 1:26 so that because of me you may swell with pride in Christ Jesus, when I come back to you.

2C. In Eternity
1D. 1 Corinthians 3:8

3:8 The one who plants and the one who waters are united, but each will receive his reward according to his work.

2D. 2 Corinthians 5:10

5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be paid back according to what he has done while in the body, whether good or evil.

3C. Questions for Thought

1. What sorts of things does Jesus promise those who serve him in the advancement of the gospel (cf. Mark 10:28-31)? Does this always happen? What ultimately happened to Peter to whom the Lord addressed the promise?

2. In 3 John 4, John says that his greatest joy is to see his children walking in the truth. Is this the reward you want for your service? See also Paul in Philippians 1:25-26.

IIA. Synthesis, Practical Applications, and Training

1B. Meditate

2B. Restate

3B. Relate

4B. Formulate

1C. Ongoing Applications
1D. Discipling others
2D. Serving in some capacity in your church
3D.
4D.
2C. Special Applications
1D. Helping in one time events
2D.
3D.
3C. Training Objectives and Activities

Objective: The new believer will develop a servant’s heart and seek to offer services freely, spontaneously, and without complaining. Further, over time, the discipler will help the maturing Christian to recognize his/her areas of giftedness and to look for avenues to develop this gift(s).

1D. Involve the new believer in a church related project.
2D. Ask him/her to serve in menial tasks.
3D. Do not put the new believer in a position of authority too quickly. Explain why (1 Peter 5:1-11; 1 Timothy 3:6-7). Godly, loving, character always precedes position and authority.
4D.
5D.
Ad Category: 
Biblical Topics: 

17. Mastering A Plan for Formal Time Together—Fellowship

IA. A Bible Study on Fellowship

1B. Our Trinitarian Salvation and the Nature of True Fellowship

1C. Our Trinitarian Salvation

Our glorious Father chose us in eternity past (Eph 1:3-4). His only Son died for us in the historical past (Eph 1:7). The wonderful Spirit applies the benefits of Christ’s redeeming work to all those the Father has chosen (Eph 1:13-14). Such are the perfect operations of our trinitarian God in saving people.

Thus the nature of true fellowship can only be understood from a knowledge of who God is and how He carries out His will. In short, the fellowship of the saints is to be grasped in the context of God’s nature and redeeming activity, including the new community he has founded to reflect his nature, will, works, and ways (cf. Eph 3:10). True fellowship begins by invitation into the divine community (where love and holiness are paramount) and proceeds from there outward to its expression in the company of those whom God now calls sons and daughters and we call brothers and sisters (cf. John 14:23; 17:23; 2 Cor 6:18; Gal 3:26; 1 John 3:1).

2C. The Essential Nature of True Fellowship

The essential nature of true fellowship among believers is relational and, therefore, spiritual/ethical. It is relational and not primarily creedal or liturgical, though these elements may indeed be present. In short, it is sharing in the life of Christ personally and corporately by the power of the indwelling Spirit and regulated according to the Spirit’s inspired word of Scripture. The communion of the saints in this way must certainly be present at the Lord’s Supper, but it is present there because it is present on all other occasions as well, i.e., the Spirit always indwells every believer and moves him/her along to experience the power of Christ in their relationships with other believers. This involves believers in the quest to live loving, holy, and righteous lives for it is impossible to live in known or obvious sin and have spiritual fellowship with other believers; we must walk in the light as He is in the light if we are to have fellowship with one another (cf. 1 John 1:6-7).

2B. Hindrances to True Fellowship: The Effects of Sinful Styles of Relating

1C. The Question of Fellowship and the Unbeliever

There is no doubt that we can share many good and meaningful experiences with non-Christians, whether they be family members or friends in general. But, this is not the same quality of experience that we can share with believers. The bond of the Spirit and the love that He brings about between believers can be much more than is possible when He is absent. Further, true, biblical fellowship centers on the person of Christ and what he means to the people involved. This cannot occur with a person that does not have the Spirit of God and is therefore not a Christian (Rom 8:9). Such a person needs to hear the gospel and trust Christ. Then they enter into the fellowship of the saints.

2C. The Problem of Sin
1D. Unrighteous Anger—James 1:19-20

1:19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters! Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. 1:20 For human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.

2D. Worldliness and Arrogance—1 John 2:15-16

2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, 2:16 because all that is in the world (the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the arrogance produced by material possessions) is not from the Father, but is from the world.

3D. Disunity and Party Spirits—1 Corinthians 1:10 (cf. chs. 1-4)

1:10 I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to agree together, to end your divisions, and to be united by the same mind and purpose.

4D. Greed and Immorality—Ephesians 5:1-5

5:1 Therefore, be imitators of God as dearly loved children 5:2 and live in love, just as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God. 5:3 But among you there must not be either sexual immorality, impurity of any kind, or greed, as these are not fitting for the saints. 5:4 Neither should there be vulgar speech, foolish talk, or coarse jesting—all of which are out of character—but rather thanksgiving. 5:5 For you can be confident of this one thing: that no person who is immoral, impure, or greedy (such a person is an idolater) has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

5D. Judgmental Attitude and the Issue of Conscience—Romans 14:1-4

14:1 Now receive the one who is weak in the faith, and do not have disputes over differing opinions. 14:2 One person believes in eating everything, but the weak person eats only vegetables. 14:3 The one who eats everything must not despise the one who does not, and the one who abstains must not judge the one who eats everything, for God has accepted him. 14:4 Who are you to pass judgment on another’s servant? Before his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

3C. Questions for Thought

1. Why does James (1:19-20) say that we should be quick to listen and slow to speak? What happens in a relationship when the opposite is the case? Why do you think some people really do not listen well and others get angry quite quickly? What about you? What role do you think one’s upbringing plays in this? Does our background give us license to sin? Does it condemn us to a life of fruitlessness (cf. John 15:5-6)?

2. What do you think John means by “the world” and “anything in the world”? What is the result if someone loves the world? Is there a middle ground between loving God and loving the world? What is the “desire of the flesh”? “The desire of the eyes”? Further, what is the “arrogance produced by material possessions”? Give some examples. How would false humility relate to boasting? How does this worldly and arrogant attitude destroy meaningful fellowship?

3. The reader is encouraged to work through 1 Corinthians 1:10-4:21. Then read 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 again. What was the cause of the divisions in Corinth and how did they manifest themselves (i.e., along what lines)? Why do you think Satan works so hard to instigate, nourish, develop, and prolong divisions and discord in the body of Christ (Rom 16:17-20; John 17:20-22)? Is this a problem in your church? What can be done to recognize and bring an end to these divisions?

4. Read Ephesians 5:1-5. What does it mean to “imitate” God? What does it mean “to live in love”? What does Paul mean by a “sacrificial and fragrant offering”? How does Christ’s fragrant offering relate to the prohibitions in 5:3-5.

5. Some Christians tend to look down upon other Christians who differ with them on certain theological issues (such as the gifts of the Spirit) or patterns of living. But, while there will always be differences among Christians, there is no need for arrogance and condescension, division and party spirits. Romans 14:1-15:13 deals with the issue of debatable matters and how we are to accept other weaker brothers at the place where they’re at (Romans 15:7).

3B. Characteristics of True Fellowship

1C. Faith in Christ and Love for Each Other—Colossians 1:3-8

1:3 We always give thanks to God, the father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 1:4 since we heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the saints. 1:5 Your faith and love have arisen from the hope laid up for you in heaven, which you have heard about in the message of truth, the gospel 1:6 that has come to you. Just as in the entire world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, so it has also been bearing fruit and growing among you from the first day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth. 1:7 You learned the gospel from Epaphras, our dear fellow slave—a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf— 1:8 who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

2C. Service—Revelation 2:18-19

2:18 “To the angel of the church in Thyatira write the following: “This is the solemn pronouncement of the Son of God, the one who has eyes like a fiery flame and whose feet are like polished bronze: 2:19 ‘I know your deeds: your love, faith, service, and steadfast endurance. In fact, your more recent deeds are greater than your earlier ones.

3C. Peace—Colossians 3:15

3:15 Let the peace of Christ be in control in your heart, for you were in fact called to this peace, and be thankful.

4C. Unity—Ephesians 4:1-6

4:1 I, therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live worthily of the calling with which you have been called, 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 4:3 making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you too were called to the one hope of your calling, 4:5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 4:6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

5C. Humility—Philippians 2:3-4

2:3 Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. 2:4 Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well.

6C. Questions for Thought

1. What two qualities does Paul thank God for in Colossians 1:3-4? How is this a good summary of the Christian life? Where does our faith and love come from according to 1:5? What is the relationship between grace and truth (1:6)?

2. Read Revelation 2:18. What is a solemn pronouncement? Why do you think John refers to the eyes of Jesus as “a fiery flame”? What four things does Jesus say he knows about the church in Thyatira? Did you notice the mention of “love” and “faith,” as well as “service”? Was Christ pleased with their service?

3. In Colossians 3:15 what does the “peace of Christ” refer to? What does the verb “rule” or “be in control” mean? This passage is in a relational context and so the peace spoken of must relate in some way to relationships in the church. In this connection, why would Paul command thankfulness here? How do we normally treat people with whom we disagree?

4. In Ephesians 4:1 what does Paul mean by “calling”? In 4:2 does Paul say “some” humility or “all” humility? What does this mean? Why does Paul focus on the “one-ness” of Christianity in 4:4-6?

5. According to Philippians 2:3 what should our motivation in relationships be? In 2:4 does Paul say it’s wrong to be concerned about your own interests? If not, what does he say? Give some examples of concern for the interests of others as well as for yourself. Theologically speaking, why would it be wrong to show no concern for your own interests?

6. Can you think of any other characteristics of true fellowship? Which ones would you like to see developed in your church? Have you sought God for these things?

4B. The Practice of True Fellowship

1C. Speaking the Truth to One Another—Ephesians 4:15

4:15 But practicing the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ, who is the head.

2C. Humbly Instructing One Another—Colossians 3:16

3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and exhorting one another with all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, all with grace in your hearts to God.

3C. Encouraging One Another—Hebrews 10:24-25

10:24 And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works, 10:25 not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day drawing near.

4C. Sharpening One Another in All Areas—Proverbs 27:17

27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens his friend.

5C. Carrying Each Other’s Burdens—Galatians 6:1-2

6:1 Brothers and sisters, if a person is discovered in some sin, you who are spiritual restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness. Pay close attention to yourselves, so that you are not tempted too. 6:2 Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

6C. Forgiving One Another—Ephesians 4:32

4:32 But instead, be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.

7C. Praying for One Another—Ephesians Eph 6:18

6:18 With every prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and to this end be alert, with all perseverance and requests for all the saints.

8C. Giving Generously to One Another—2 Corinthians 9:6-8

9:6 My point is this: the person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. 9:7 Each one of you should give just as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, because God loves a cheerful giver. 9:8 And God is able to make all grace overflow to you so that because you have enough of everything in every way at all times, you will overflow in every good work.

9C. Communing with Christ and One Another—Acts 2:42

2:42 They were devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

10C. Using Our Spiritual Gifts—1 Peter 4:10-11

4:10 Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of the varied grace of God. 4:11 Whoever speaks, let it be with God’s words. Whoever serves, do so with the strength that God supplies, so that in everything God will be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

11C. The Proper Use of the Sacraments
1D. Baptism—Acts 8:12 (The standard practice of the early church was to baptize its new members)

8:12 But when they believed Philip as he was proclaiming the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they began to be baptized, both men and women.

2D. The Lord’s Supper—1 Corinthians 11:23-26

11:23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took bread, 11:24 and after he had given thanks he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 11:25 In the same way, he also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, every time you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 11:26 For every time you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

12C. Questions for Thought

1. In Ephesians 4:15, by what manner does Paul say we as Christians will grow up into Christ? Do we always do a good job of holding truth and love in balance? What happens when we are concerned about truth but have no love? Conversely, what happens when we seek to love and yet express no interest in truth? How do truth and love reflect aspects of the character and work of God himself (cf. John 1:14-18; the cross)? At the end of Ephesians 4:15 Paul speaks of Christ as the “head” of the body. What is the role of a head in relationship to the body? Summarize this passage in your own words. How could you apply it?

2. What is the word of Christ in Colossians 3:16 (e.g., the OT, apostolic preaching, the Bible, etc.)? How can it dwell richly within us? What are we to do with it? And in what manner are we to do this? Why is singing and praising God encouraged in conjunction with teaching and admonishing one another?

3. In Hebrews 10:24 what do you think the expression, “take thought” means in reference to spurring others on? Is this a passive attitude or is there a real intention and will behind it? Are you doing that with people? How could you grow more in this area? Further, in 10:25 the author talks about “meeting together.” What does “meeting together” really mean? Is it just that we’re in the same location for an hour? How important is Christian fellowship in this author’s mind? How about yours? What do you think “the day drawing near” means (cf. Heb 10:37; Phil 1:6)?

4. What does it mean, according to Proverbs 27:17, to sharpen another person? What kinds of activities could you do with a friend to help stimulate him/her to love, serve, and obey Christ and to mature as a believer? This can include anything that will help a person become a better servant of the Lord according to the biblical understanding of that idea.

5. Read Galatians 6:1-2. Another aspect of true fellowship involves carrying each other’s burdens. How can we do this? Give some examples. How could we restore a person who found themselves caught in a sin? What is Paul’s warning in this? In this context, then, generally speaking, what is the law of Christ (see John 14:21ff.)?

6. In Ephesians 4:32 Paul commands us, as the church of God, to be kind to each other, to be compassionate and forgiving? What does it mean to be compassionate and to forgive? Is there someone you need to deal compassionately with or perhaps forgive for past wrongs? What does the phrase “just as God in Christ also forgave you” mean? Relate it to the preceding command to forgive others.

7. Summarize Ephesians 6:18 in your own words. What does it mean to be alert in prayer? Using a concordance, find all the passages that speak of alertness and try and discern what “being alert” refers to.

8. What general principle (v. 6 is proverbial in nature) for giving does Paul lay down in 2 Corinthians 9:6? Does this mean that God is an automaton just waiting for us to give and then he will automatically bless? What kind of giver does God love in 9:7? What is the promise that goes with being a generous giver (9:8)? How could you apply this to your life? NOTE: the historical situation that gave rise to 2 Cor 8-9 is Paul’s collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem.

9. Read Acts 2:42. Can you think of any other passages that speak about our communion with the saints and the Lord? According to all that you’ve learned in this lesson and throughout this study on discipleship, why is this so crucial for the church?

10. Summarize Peter’s point in 1 Peter 4:10-11. How do gifts relate to the grace of God in this passage? Lesson 15 was devoted to the topic of serving and the spiritual gifts. Please refer to that as well.

IIA. Synthesis, Practical Applications, and Training

1B. Meditate

2B. Restate

3B. Relate

4B. Formulate

1C. Ongoing Applications
2C. Special Applications
3C. Training Objectives and Applications
Ad Category: 
Biblical Topics: 

18. Mastering A Plan for Formal Time Together—Giving

IA. A Bible Study on Giving

1B. The Foundation for Giving

1C. 1 Chronicles 29:11-12

29:10 David praised the Lord before the entire assembly: “O Lord God of our father Israel, you deserve praise forevermore! 29:11 O Lord, you are great, mighty, majestic, magnificent, glorious, and sovereign over all the sky and earth! You have dominion and exalt yourself as the ruler of all. 29:12 You are the source of wealth and honor; you rule over all. You possess strength and might to magnify and give strength to all. 29:13 Now, our God, we give thanks to you and praise your majestic name. 29:14 “But who am I and who are my people, that we should be in a position to contribute this much? Indeed, everything comes from you, and we have simply given back to you what is yours.

2C. Matthew 7:7-12

7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. 7:8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks the door will be opened. 7:9 Is there anyone among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 7:10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 7:11 If you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 7:12 In everything, treat others as you would want them to treat you, for this fulfills the law and the prophets.

3C. Luke 11:13

11:13 If you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

4C. John 1:16

1:14 Now the Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We saw his glory—the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the Father. 1:15 John testified about him and cried out, “This one was the one about whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is greater than I am, because he existed before me.’” 1:16 For we have all received from his fullness one gracious gift after another. 1:17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came about through Jesus Christ. 1:18 No one has ever seen God. The only one, himself God, who is in the presence of the Father, has made God known.

5C. 1 Corinthians 4:7 (Matthew 10:8)

4:6 I have applied these things to myself and Apollos because of you, brothers and sisters, so that through us you may learn “not to go beyond what is written,” so that none of you will be puffed up in favor of the one against the other. 4:7 For who concedes you any superiority? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as though you did not? 4:8 Already you are satisfied! Already you are rich! You have become kings without us! I wish you had become kings so that we could reign with you!

6C. 2 Corinthians 9:8

9:8 And God is able to make all grace overflow to you so that because you have enough of everything in every way at all times, you will overflow in every good work.

7C. Questions for Thought

1. What was David asking the people for in 1 Chronicles 29:5? What kind of response did he get from the leaders and the people? Why do you think it’s important to give freely and spontaneously? According to 1 Chronicles 29:11-13 where does wealth ultimately come from? When God does provide for us, what should our response be? Do you praise God for his gifts to you? Do you seek to use them to advance his purposes in the world, akin to what David did in the building of the temple?

2. In Matthew 7:7 Jesus says to “ask, seek, and knock.” What reasons are given in Matthew 7:8-11? What do you suppose Matthew 7:12 means in this context? Why is it here?

3. In the previous verses we have seen that the foundation of all giving is God’s graciousness to us. According to Luke 11:13, what is the most precious gift he has ever given us and how does this relate to all other giving? Read John 1:14-18 also. Again, what is the foundation of all our desires and acts of giving? Based on Luke 11:13 and John 1:14-18, can anyone ever “out-give” God?

4. Read 1 Corinthians 4:7. What mistake had the Corinthians made regarding the gifts they had received? Has this happened to you in your life? What should you do about it?

5. How does 2 Corinthians 9:8 nicely summarize the foundation of all Christian giving? Why do we give? Are we trying to earn favor with God? Are we working for grace or from grace?

2B. The Blessing of Giving

1C. Malachi 3:6-12

3:6 “Since, I, the Lord, do not go back on my promises, you, sons of Jacob, have not perished. 3:7 From the days of your ancestors you have ignored my commandments and have not kept them! Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the sovereign Lord. “But you say, ‘How should we return?’ 3:8 Can a person rob God? You indeed are robbing me, but you say, ‘How are we robbing you?’ In tithes and contributions! 3:9 You are bound for judgment because you are robbing me—this whole nation is guilty. 3:10 “Bring the entire tithe into the storehouse so that there may be food in my temple. Test me in this matter,” says the sovereign Lord, “to see if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until there is no room for it all. 3:11 Then I will stop the plague from ruining your crops; the vine will not lose its fruit before harvest,” says the sovereign Lord. 3:12 “All nations will call you happy, for you indeed will live in a delightful land,” says the sovereign Lord.

2C. Galatians 6:9-10

So we must not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not give up. 6:10 So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who belong to the family of faith.

3C. 2 Corinthians 9:10-15

9:10 Now God who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide and multiply your supply of seed and will cause the harvest of your righteousness to grow. 9:11 You will be enriched in every way so that you may be generous on every occasion, which is producing through us thanksgiving to God, 9:12 because the service of this ministry is not only providing for the needs of the saints but is also overflowing with many thanks to God. 9:13 Through the evidence of this service they will glorify God because of your obedience to your confession in the gospel of Christ and the generosity of your sharing with them and with everyone. 9:14 And in their prayers on your behalf they long for you because of the extraordinary grace God has shown to you. 9:15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.

4C. Questions for Thought

1. According to Malachi 3:6-12 the nation of Israel were guilty of not bringing the entire tithe into the storehouse and God was reprimanding them for it. What blessings, however, did he promise if they would respond in faith and give generously to him? What principle can we learn from this? Compare 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 and Galatians 6:9-10.

2. Summarize at least three principles that are taught in Galatians 6:9-10.

3. Both Galatians 6:9-10 and 2 Corinthians 9:10-15 make a connection between giving material goods and reaping a spiritual harvest of righteousness. Explain this connection in your own words. What blessings are related to giving in 2 Corinthians 9:10-15? Think on both a personal and corporate level.

3B. The Practice and Attitude of Giving

1C. Proverbs 3:9-10

3:9 Honor the Lord from your wealth and from the first fruits of all your crops; 3:10 then your barns will be filled completely, and your vats will overflow with new wine.

2C. Proverbs 11:24-25

11:24 One person is generous and yet grows more wealthy, but another withholds more than he ought and comes to poverty. 11:25 A generous person will be enriched, and the one who provides water for others will himself be satisfied.

3C. Matthew 6:2-4

6:2 Thus whenever you do charitable giving, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in synagogues and on streets so that people will praise them. I tell you the truth, they have their reward. 6:3 But when you do your giving, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 6:4 so that your gift may be in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.

4C. Mark 12:41-44

12:41 Then he sat down opposite the offering box, and watched the crowd putting coins into it. Many rich people were throwing in large amounts. 12:42 And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, worth less than a penny. 12:43 He called his disciples and said to them, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the offering box than all the others. 12:44 For they all gave out of their wealth. But she, out of her poverty, put in what she had to live on, everything she had.”

5C. Luke 6:32-38

6:32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 6:33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 6:34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to be repaid, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, so that they may be repaid in full. 6:35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to ungrateful and evil people. 6:36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. 6:37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven. 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you: a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be poured into your lap. For the measure you use will be the measure you receive.”

6C. Acts 2:42-47

2:42 They were devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 2:43 Reverential awe came on everyone, and many wonders and miraculous signs came about by the apostles. 2:44 All who believed were together and held everything in common, 2:45 and they began selling their property and possessions and distributing the proceeds to everyone, as anyone had need. 2:46 Every day they continued to gather together by common consent in the temple courts, breaking bread from house to house, sharing their food with glad and humble hearts, 2:47 praising God and having the good will of all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number every day those who were being saved.

7C. 2 Corinthians 8:5

8:5 And they did this not just as we had hoped, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and to us by the will of God.

8C. 2 Corinthians 8:1-4; 9:6-7

8:1 Now we make known to you, brothers and sisters, the grace of God given to the churches of Macedonia, 8:2 that during a severe ordeal of suffering, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in the wealth of their generosity. 8:3 For I testify, they gave according to their means and beyond their means. They did so voluntarily, 8:4 begging us with great earnestness for the blessing and fellowship of helping the saints…9:6 My point is this: the person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. 9:7 Each one of you should give just as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, because God loves a cheerful giver.

9C. Questions for Thought

1. What practice does Proverbs 3:9-10 outline for us? How could you implement it in your own life? Why might it be important to give of the first of our earnings to God?

2. Summarize the principle in Proverbs 11:24-25. Have you ever seen instances of God working in this way?

3. In Matthew 6:2-4 Jesus explains how God will deal with people who give in a hypocritical fashion. How will they be treated by God? Why? What untruth do they probably believe about God that underlies their hypocritical desires?

4. Read Mark 11:45-12:44. The scene is in the temple and the religious authorities are questioning Jesus about the source of his authority. But they do so in antagonistic ways, attempting to trap him in his words. They are leaders without faith in God and without love for others. Why, then, at the end of this section does Mark show Jesus drawing his disciples’ attention to the women in 12:41-44? What does she teach us about true faith and giving?

5. Why is Luke 6:38 in a section dealing with love for enemies? What is the principle Jesus is teaching in v. 38? Again, make sure you relate it to the context in 6:32-38.

6. What does Acts 2:45 teach us about giving freely?

7. What example do the Macedonian churches set for other churches (and us) by the manner in which they went about giving? What does it mean to give yourself to the Lord first and then to people?

8. From 2 Corinthians 8-9 draw out as many principles on “giving” as you can. Relate each principle to others in 2 Corinthians 8-9 and to others in the Bible (consider the principles you’ve already learned in this study). Try to develop an outline from 2 Corinthians 8-9 that you could share with others.

4B. The Need to Give Wisely

1C. Proverbs 19:6

19:6 Many people entreat the favor of a generous person, and everyone is the friend of the one who gives gifts.

2C. Proverbs 27:23-24

27:23 Pay careful attention to the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds, 27:24 for riches do not last forever, nor does a crown last from generation to generation.

3C. Questions for Thought

1. What caution does Proverbs 19:6 bring to mind? Have you ever seen this happen?

2. How do Proverbs 27:23-24 relate to giving and possessing wealth in general?

5B. Hindrances to Giving

1C. Matthew 6:24

6:24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

2C. Luke 14:33

14:33 In the same way therefore not one of you can be my disciple if he does not renounce all his own possessions.

3C. James 4:1-4

4:1 Where do the conflicts and where do the quarrels among you come from? Is it not from this, from your passions that battle inside you? 4:2 You desire and you do not have; you murder and envy and you cannot obtain; you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask; 4:3 you ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, so you can spend it on your passions. 4:4 Adulterers, do you not know that friendship with the world means hostility towards God? So whoever decides to be the world’s friend makes himself God’s enemy.

4C. 1 John 2:15-17

2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, 2:16 because all that is in the world (the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the arrogance produced by material possessions) is not from the Father, but is from the world. 2:17 And the world is passing away with all its desires, but the person who does the will of God remains forever.

5C. Questions for Thought

1. In Matthew 6:24 Jesus says there is no middle ground between loving God and loving money; a person is either serving one or the other. How does this relate to giving regularly and generously?

2. In Luke 14:33 what do you think it means to renounce all your possessions? If Jesus said in Matthew 6:25-34 that God knows all our needs and provides for us, “renounce” cannot mean to simply give them all away. After all, it would seem that, for argument’s sake, anyway, that they’re from God (cf. 1 Tim 6:17). What then does Jesus mean? Is he speaking hyperbolically (cf. Matthew 5:29)? If so, what is his point?

3. Though James 4:1-4 does not relate directly to giving, it does talk about the condition of our heart and our desires for wealth. Can the person James describes give generously to others? Why not? How is selfishness both ugly (on God’s people) and a serious hindrance to the grace of giving?

4. How does 1 John 2:15-17 straighten us out regarding how we are to view the world and its riches? A wrong view of the world can have disastrous consequences for Christians. NOTE: Here, John portrays the world from the point of view of its anti-God stance and sinfulness. He, of course, is not referring to the world in the sense of God’s creation and its goodness, but the world in its fallenness and rebellion. Relate 1 John 2:15-17 to the idea of giving.

IIA. Synthesis, Practical Applications, and Training

1B. Meditate

2B. Restate

3B. Relate

4B. Formulate

1C. Ongoing Applications
1D. World Vision Children
2D. Church Giving
3D. Missionaries
4D. Constantly Looking for Needs
5D.
6D.
2C. Special Applications
1D. Attending Fund Raising Functions
2D. Special Projects
3D. People with Immediate Needs
4D.
3C. Training Objectives and Activities

Objective: The disciple of Christ will develop the virtue of abundant generosity and the wise giving of time, resources, and money. They will develop a consistent pattern of giving to the ongoing needs of the church and of looking to meet needs in other special situations.

1D. Share with your disciple your plan for giving money to the Lord’s work. You do not need to communicate exact amounts, but only that you give happily, sacrificially, and consistently.
2D. Help the disciple understand that all wealth comes from God and is to be regarded as His; we are to see ourselves as stewards of his resources.
3D.
Ad Category: 
Biblical Topics: 

19. Mastering A Plan for Formal Time Together—Evangelism

IA. A Bible Study on Evangelism

1B. The Mandate for World Evangelization

1C. Matthew 4:19

4:19 He said to them, “Follow me, and I will turn you into fishers of people.”

2C. Luke 24:44-47

24:44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.” 24:45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the scriptures, 24:46 and said to them, “Thus it stands written that the Messiah would suffer and would rise from the dead on the third day, 24:47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

3C. Acts 1:8

1:8 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 farthest parts of the earth.”

4C. Acts 17:30-31

17:30 Therefore, although God has overlooked such times of ignorance, he now commands all people everywhere to repent, 17:31 because he has set a day on which he is going to judge the world in righteousness, by a man whom he designated, having provided proof to all by raising him from the dead.”

5C. Romans 1:16

1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

6C. Romans 15:17-21

15:17 So I boast in Christ Jesus about the things that pertain to God. 15:18 For I will not dare to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in order to bring about the obedience of the Gentiles, by word and deed, 15:19 in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem even as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. 15:20 And in this way I desire to preach where Christ has not been named, so as not to build on another person’s foundation, 15:21 but as it is written: “Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.”

7C. Colossians 1: 23b

This gospel has also been preached in all creation under heaven, and I, Paul, have become its servant.

8C. Questions for Thought

1. How important is it in Matthew 4:19 that these are some of the first words of Christ to his disciples? How important is it for their understanding of what it means to follow Christ? How do they impact you? Do they have a structuring role in how you view your relationship with God?

2. In Luke 24:44-47 how did Jesus relate himself and his ministry to the Old Testament? What is the significance of this? What things does Jesus say “stand written”? Since Jesus had “all nations” in view here, is it likely that he was thinking solely of the ministry of the early Jewish church? How should “repentance for the forgiveness of sins” be proclaimed today? In other words, what does this phrase mean and how does it relate to believing in Jesus (John 5:24)?

3. According to Acts 1:8 where is the gospel to be preached? What does Jesus imply that the disciples need in order to accomplish this? How does this relate to your life and how can you assist in getting the gospel to the end of the earth?

4. Summarize the message of Acts 17:30-31. What is the motivation for repentance in this passage? What is the proof that is offered for the fact that Christ will judge the world on God’s appointed day, i.e., time?

5. How does Paul describe the gospel in Romans 1:16? Is he focusing on “salvation” as entrance into relationship with God (Rom 4-5), “salvation” as life lived before God (6-8) or “salvation” as glorification in the next life (Rom 8:29)? Is it all of these or one or more of them? How does this relate to your life?

6. What kind of things does Paul boast about in Romans 15:17-21? What sorts of things do you boast about? Meditate on Colossians 1:23b and paraphrase it in your own words..

2B. Everyone an Evangelist

1C. Acts 8:4

8:4 Now those who had been forced to scatter went around proclaiming the good news of the word.

2C. 2 Corinthians 5:20

5:20 Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His plea through us. We plead with you on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God!”

3C. Colossians 4:5-6

4:5 Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunities. 4:6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer everyone.

4C. 1 Peter 3:15-16

3:15 But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess. 3:16 Yet do it with courtesy and respect, keeping a good conscience, so that those who slander your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame when they accuse you.

5C. Questions for Thought

1. According to Acts 8:4, what did those who were scattered as a result of the persecution in Jerusalem and the stoning of Stephen do? What do most people do today when trouble hits?

2. How does Paul refer to himself in 2 Corinthians 5:20? What does it mean to be an “ambassador”? Who is Paul representing? Who do we represent? If Paul’s message is “Be reconciled to God,” who, then, has the problem, God or us?

3. Summarize Colossians 4:5-6. What would it mean to conduct ourselves with wisdom toward those who do not yet know Christ? How can we make the most of the opportunities? Do we even view our relationships with non-Christians as opportunities to love them and share Christ with them? As Christians committed to Christ, many of us sometimes think we need to have all the right answers before we can talk to people about Christ. According to Col 4:6, what is more important than having the right answer when talking to others? How important is it to share Christ in a spirit of love and graciously say, “I don’t know” when you do not know the answer to a question. Be prepared to tell your friends, when they ask a tough question, that right now you do not have the answer, but you’ll get back to them on it. Then go and research an answer. That’s honest and it wins respect for the gospel.

4. In 1 Peter 3:15 what does it mean to set Christ apart as Lord in your heart? Do people often ask you about the hope you profess? This doesn’t mean that the term “hope” has to appear in their question, but does your life give them any cause to think about your God? In 3:16 how does Peter say we should relate the gospel to others? In short, we should never violate the fruit of the Spirit in order to share the message of the Spirit! Why does Peter talk about a good conscience? And, why is our conduct so important in the communication of the gospel (NOTE: Think about what the gospel message is.)? Read Titus 3:8.

3B. The Heart of the Gospel Message

1C. The State of Man
1D. Sin (Romans 3:23)

3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

2D. Death (Romans 6:23a)

6:23 For the payoff of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

3D. Certain Judgment (Hebrews 9:27)

9:27 And just as people are appointed to die once, and then to face judgment,

4D. Questions for Thought

1. According to Romans 3:23 has anyone (apart from Christ; Heb 4:15) ever escaped sin? In this verse what does it mean to be a sinner? What is the “glory of God”?

2. In Romans 6:23 what is the result of sin? What does the word “payoff” connote or imply? What kind of death do you think Paul refers to? NOTE: Death can be viewed as spiritual separation from God, physical death, or the second or eternal death (eternal separation from God in Hell). Generally speaking it refers to conscious existence in a realm separated from the presence, fellowship, love, joy, holiness, and power of God.

3. In Hebrews 9:27 the writer talks about what happens after we die. What does the term “appointed” mean? What can each man be certain of following physical death?

2C. The Holiness and Love of God
1D. 1 Peter 1:15-16

1:15 but, like the Holy One who called you, become holy yourselves in all of your conduct, 1:16 for it is written, “You shall be holy, because I am holy.”

2D. Hebrews 10:26

10:26 For if we deliberately keep on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, no further sacrifice for sins is left for us, 10:27 but only a certain fearful expectation of judgment and a fury of fire that will consume God’s enemies.

3D. John 3:16

3:16 For this is the way God loved the world: he gave his one and only Son that everyone who believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

273D. Questions for Thought

1. What do you think 1 Peter 1:15-16 means when it refers to God as “holy”? Does this necessarily mean he is an ogre? Was not Christ just as holy as God the Father? So then, what does the term mean and how does it relate to God’s love? What should our response be to the recognition of God’s holiness?

2. How does God relate to those who hear the gospel and continually reject its truth and claim upon their lives? What will God carry out in regard to them? What does this teach you about him?

3. According to John 3:16, a familiar verse to many, what did God do as a result of his love for the world? Why did he give his one and only Son? Where do you stand in relationship to God’s gift of his Son?

3C. The Need for Faith Alone and the Place of Good Works
1D. Romans 4:4-5

4:4 Now to the one who works, his pay is not credited due to grace but due to obligation. 4:5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in the one who declares the ungodly righteous, his faith is credited as righteousness.

2D. Ephesians 2:8-9

2:8 For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 2:9 it is not of works, so that no one can boast.

3D. Ephesians 2:10

2:10 For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them.

4D. Questions for Thought

1. What two things does Paul contrast in Romans 4:4-5? Explain the verse and summarize it in your own words? What does it mean for your own relationship with God?

2. In Ephesians 2:8-9 Paul says that people are saved by grace and not by works. But why won’t works save us (cf. Ephesians 2:1)? Can’t we just keep trying to do better? When Paul refers to salvation as a gift, what does this imply? And, is there any room for bragging about human achievement, either in attaining salvation or living it out?

3. According to Ephesians 2:10, are works important to God? Where do they belong, however, in the “salvation equation”? Are they the “root” or the “fruit” of salvation? Is genuine saving faith ever without some evidence (James 2:14-26)?

4C. The Death of Christ
1D. Romans 5:8

5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

2D. 1 Peter 3:18

3:18 Because Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, to bring you to God, by being put to death in the flesh but by being made alive in the spirit.

3D. Questions for Thought

1. When did Christ die for us? In what state were we and how many of our sins were still future to him? How great is his love!!!

2. How many times will Christ suffer for sins? Why did he suffer? In 1 Peter 3:18 the Spirit is given credit for the resurrection (see Romans 1:4). Actually, the NT writers view all three members of the trinity as involved in the resurrection (John 10:17-18; Eph 1:20).

5C. Assurance of Salvation
1D. 1 John 5:11-13

5:11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 5:12 The one who has the Son of God has this eternal life; the one who does not have the Son of God does not have this eternal life. 5:13 I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

2D. John 5:24

5:24 “I tell you the solemn truth, the one who hears my message and believes the one who sent me, has eternal life and will not be condemned, but has crossed over from death to life.

3D. Questions for Thought

1. What does the word “testimony,” mean in 1 John 5:11? What does it refer to and how does it impact you? What does “eternal life” mean (see John 17:3)? What is the condition for the possession of this life in 5:12? In 5:13 why does John say he has written this letter to them? What is the relationship between our assurance of eternal life and God’s written word?

2. What is the condition for eternal life in John 5:24? Do people just grow into having eternal life or is there, according to this verse, a definitive “event” that takes place? NOTE: A person may certainly grow in their understanding of what happened to them when they were saved, but from God’s perspective, there is clearly a moment before salvation and a moment after entrance into a saving relationship with him (cf. Col 1:13-14).

4B. The Heart of a Gospel Lifestyle

1C. Matthew 5:16

5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven.

2C. 1 Corinthians 10:31

10:31 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.

3C. Philippians 1:9-11

1:9 And I pray this, that your love may abound even more and more in knowledge and every kind of insight 1:10 so that you can decide what is best, and thus be sincere and blameless for the day of Christ, 1:11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.

4C. Titus 1:16

1:16 They profess to know God but with their deeds they deny him, since they are detestable, disobedient, and unfit for any good deed.

5C. Titus 2:5, 10

2:5 to be self-controlled, pure, fulfilling their duties at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the message of God may not be discredited…2:10 not to pilfer, but showing all good faith, in order to do credit to the teaching of God our Savior in everything.

6C. Titus 3:8

3:8 This saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on such truths, so that those who have placed their faith in God may be intent on engaging in good works. These things are good and beneficial for all people.

7C. 1 Peter 2:11-12

2:11 Dear friends, I urge you as foreigners and exiles to keep away from fleshly desires that do battle against the soul, 2:12 and maintain good conduct among the non-Christians, so that though they now malign you as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God when he appears.

8C. Questions for Thought

1. According to Matthew 5:16 how can we make God known to people? How does this relate to what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:31?

2. How does Paul pray for the Philippians? In what ways does he want them to grow? What is the purpose of their growth? NOTE: There is both an intermediate and an ultimate purpose involved? What are they? What does the term “filled” imply about our Christian lives in 1:11? Some people barely make it through each day. Is this the way Paul envisioned the Christian life?

3. In Titus 1:16, what do sinful deeds actually end up solidifying? Can true and pure belief exist in a person who constantly lives in a way that is evil?

4. According to Titus 2:5, 10 what do good deeds do? What kind of character traits or virtues does Paul say should adorn Christian women and all Christians for that matter?

5. What is the outcome of good works in Titus 3:8?

6. In 1 Peter 5:11 how does Peter talk about the works of the flesh? What does it mean to be in a battle? Have you experienced this? How do you deal with it? Even though some non-Christians malign the Christian way, we ought still to do good deeds so that when Christ returns these “maligners” may give glory to God admitting that he was at work in his people (cf. 1 Peter 2:11-12).

5B. Dealing with Sincere Objections

1C. The Bible Was Written by Men…

Yes, the Bible was written by men. But, this does not mean that it necessarily errs in what it says, for not everything men say is in error, spiritually or otherwise. Second, the testimony of Scripture is not just that man wrote it, but that man “carried along by the Holy Spirit” wrote it (2 Peter 1:20-21). The superintending work of the Spirit guarantees its truthfulness. While there are often certain kinds of problems in the interpretation of scripture, and certain archaeological and historical issues still remain to be solved (a vast array have already been solved or simply dismissed as mute under the weight of new evidence), there are a number of factors that when taken together constitute good evidence for the divine inspiration of scripture: It was produced over 1500 years by over 40 authors on three different continents, yet (1) it maintains a highly spiritual, yet “true to life” perspective; (2) its wonderful depth and diversity are matched by its consistent testimony to the character of God and man; and (3) it maintains consistency regarding its teaching on the nature of salvation and God’s grace; (4) it has given spiritual life, vitality, and power to millions and millions of people and the church has always recognized it as God’s authoritative, faith producing Word.

2C. I Believe That Jesus Was A Good Man, But…

Everyone should believe that Jesus was a good man, lest they reveal something of their own depravity. How can someone call evil a man who loved others so deeply and sacrificed so much for them? The question is not, “Was Jesus a good man?” Rather, the question is, “Was he only a good man?” We may say a few things in response. First, he never claimed to be just a good man. Second, the record indicates that he claimed much more; indeed, he claimed that he had a special and unique relationship with the Father (John 8:58). Third, he did miracles and raised the dead. From this we would at least have to admit that he was no normal man. Fourth, he claimed he was the only way to God and that all other ways were dead ends (John 14:6). These are not the claims of a good man, for then he would have been a liar; no man, who is simply a good man, can be the only way to God. Finally, the records state that he rose from the dead and both the existence of the church and the personal claims of Christians (down through the ages) to know him (not just about him) argue strongly for the truthfulness of his claims.

3C. What About Those Who Have Never Heard…

The fate of those who have never heard is an important question which has recently been at the forefront of many people’s thinking. Let me say up front that I think this is an important question. I must also tell you that those who have asked it of me, if they were really concerned, should have showed more personal interest in making their own hearts right with the Lord. Since they often do not, I regard their asking as only a red herring in the discussion. But, their sincerity notwithstanding, the question needs to be dealt with.

To answer the question, then, we know that in a Biblical worldview no one will ever come to God apart from the merits of Christ. What we do not know is if God in his infinite mercy has shown himself savingly to others apart from missionary preaching. Certainly he has preserved people and prepared them for the hearing of the gospel.28 Again, he may have even brought people to himself, in the Bible and nowadays, without the aid of a human instrument. But we must stress that this in no way undermines our need to carry the gospel to our neighbors around the world. People perish for not understanding the gospel, and this fact, understood in the proper way, is our responsibility. How shall they believe in one they have not heard? And how shall they hear unless someone is sent (Rom 10:14)? We will be held accountable for our efforts to reach all men with the gospel.

Having said all this, it is important to state that it is quite unlikely that there are “anonymous Christians,” that is, people who are really Christians and don’t know it. The Bible always includes personal knowledge of Christ as essential for salvation.29 Therefore, a worshipping Buddhist, no matter how sincere he/she might be, is not a Christian (and probably does not want to be considered one either). So, while it may be possible that God has revealed himself to people apart from sending a person to preach the gospel, we must say that this is not the Biblical norm, nor does it lead to the unscriptural idea of anonymous Christians.

4C. Don’t All Roads Lead to God…

The answer to this question is simply “no.” Not all roads lead to God. If we make any claim about truth, we believe that there is also error. This cannot be avoided. If we believe there is truth and error, we believe that our minds are able to grasp the difference. If this is true, we believe in the law of “non-contradiction.” In short, we believe that our minds can grasp truth, at least to some degree, namely, to the degree that no two statements that affirm opposite claims about God, in the same way and at the same time, can in fact be true. Either both are false or one is true and the other false. Since this is true, and most religions, including the world’s great religions offer competing core theologies about God,30 they cannot all be true. Either they’re all false, or one is true, or each contains some elements of truth that require yet another synthesis. Therefore, not all roads lead to God.

IIA. Synthesis, Practical Applications, and Training

1B. Meditate

2B. Restate

3B. Relate

4B. Formulate

1C. Ongoing Applications
1D. Friendship Evangelism
2D. Develop Your Testimony (3 Minute/20 minute)
3D. Learn a Gospel Illustration and Explanation with Verses
4D. Invite People to Your Church
5D. Invite People to a Christian Presentation
6D. Give a Person a Book Explaining the Christian Life (e.g., C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)
2C. Special Applications
1D. Sharing Testimony
2D. Evangelistic Bible Studies
3D. Short Term Missions
3C. Training Objectives and Applications

Objective: The disciple will know a gospel illustration and the corresponding Bible verses, and practice sharing it a few times with the help of his/her discipler. He/she will also know their testimony and will be helped to share it with someone and then to evaluate the experience.

1D. Supervise a gospel presentation with someone
2D. Reach out to someone together through love, service, and good works.
3D. Discuss and work through developing gospel oriented relationships with others in various common interest communities.
4D.
5D.

27 Multiple, The NET Bible, (Dallas, TX: Biblical Studies Press) 1998.

28 Often times a Christian will find light and truth (as well as gross darkness and confusion) in other religions. The way we know this is by measuring the religion’s claims against a Biblical worldview. But, it must be stated that the degree to which truth is present in these religions, it is there due to the grace of (the biblical) God through creation and providence.

29 “General revelation,” as it is often referred to, is the positive revelation of God through the created world, but it is not enough to save. According to the apostle Paul, men do not respond positively to this revelation on their own, rather, they suppress the knowledge of God gained through it. This suppression leads to further sin and guilt, and finally to condemnation (Romans 1:18-32).

30 The liberal tendency to water down the obvious differences (i.e., different truth claims) between religions rests on a supposed “view from nowhere” without any supernatural evidence and certainly finds very few supporters among adherents to the religions in question. It is, then, for the most part, simply a view stemming from arrogance, however motivated by pious concerns for interfaith dialogue and respect.

Ad Category: 
Biblical Topics: