Pleasing God Podcast

Embracing Discipleship: Living and Sharing Faith Authentically

April 21, 2024 Jonathan Sole Season 2 Episode 20
Embracing Discipleship: Living and Sharing Faith Authentically
Pleasing God Podcast
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Pleasing God Podcast
Embracing Discipleship: Living and Sharing Faith Authentically
Apr 21, 2024 Season 2 Episode 20
Jonathan Sole

Join me, Jonathan Sole, as we venture into the heart of Christian faith, exploring the enduring call to discipleship. This episode promises to illuminate the dual nature of the Great Commission, not just as a charge to spread the faith but as a comforting assurance that our journey is shared and supported. Unpack the rich tapestry of scriptural guidance, where the term 'disciple' transcends time, inviting us into a deeper, more intentional relationship with Jesus. We tackle the often-misunderstood connection between evangelism and discipleship, revealing the bond that empowers believers to live out the faith with conviction and purpose.

As we navigate the practical outworking of discipleship within the Christian community, I offer insights gained from personal experiences, stressing the significance of mutual discipleship for spiritual growth and honoring God. Discover the actionable steps we can take to foster robust discipleship communities, drawing inspiration from the lives of Paul, Timothy, and Titus. Your involvement is key; I encourage your questions and reflections as we aim for the ultimate goal of sanctification, as echoed in 1 Thessalonians 4:3. This isn't just another conversation; it's an actionable guide to transforming our faith in fellowship with others.

Support the Show.

Stock Music provided by wolfgangwoehrle, from Pond5

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Join me, Jonathan Sole, as we venture into the heart of Christian faith, exploring the enduring call to discipleship. This episode promises to illuminate the dual nature of the Great Commission, not just as a charge to spread the faith but as a comforting assurance that our journey is shared and supported. Unpack the rich tapestry of scriptural guidance, where the term 'disciple' transcends time, inviting us into a deeper, more intentional relationship with Jesus. We tackle the often-misunderstood connection between evangelism and discipleship, revealing the bond that empowers believers to live out the faith with conviction and purpose.

As we navigate the practical outworking of discipleship within the Christian community, I offer insights gained from personal experiences, stressing the significance of mutual discipleship for spiritual growth and honoring God. Discover the actionable steps we can take to foster robust discipleship communities, drawing inspiration from the lives of Paul, Timothy, and Titus. Your involvement is key; I encourage your questions and reflections as we aim for the ultimate goal of sanctification, as echoed in 1 Thessalonians 4:3. This isn't just another conversation; it's an actionable guide to transforming our faith in fellowship with others.

Support the Show.

Stock Music provided by wolfgangwoehrle, from Pond5

Speaker 1:

Hi and welcome back to the Pleasing God podcast, a podcast focused on helping Christians to think biblically, engage practically and live faithfully for the glory of God. I'm your host, jonathan Soul, and on this episode I want to begin maybe a series of talks on, because I just don't think I can cover it in one you know 20 minute or so show. But I want to talk about discipleship. What is discipleship? What does the Bible tell us about it and what does that look like in our churches, in our communities? What does discipleship in 2024 and beyond look like and how can we, as faithful Christians desiring to please God, make disciples of Jesus Christ? And so, yeah, let's start with just kind of defining our terms here. When we think about discipleship, what does that mean? I mean, you know, some modern writers and contemporary authors today say, hey, maybe we should be using a different term, different term. Disciple seems kind of dated and maybe we should contextualize our language for modern times. And while I think contextualization is important and kind of updating our language so that it's a reflection of how we actually use our vocabulary in the modern vernacular is important, but I don't like getting rid of the word disciple. I think that's a term that we should just continue to emphasize and teach, and I mean I guess we could use synonyms, but I prefer disciple because it's distinguishing.

Speaker 1:

Let's talk a little bit about kind of the discipleship mandate, as we're defining discipleship and it comes in Matthew, chapter 28, very famous passage known as the Great Commission. And Jesus gathers up all of his disciples, which it was his followers? It was a disciple being a disciplined learner, one who was to sit under another, and Jesus, being the disciple maker, brings in his 11 disciples. This is right after the resurrection. He's met them in Galilee, he's about to ascend, but before he does so, he's going to restore all of them who deserted him on the night of his trial and the day of his execution. This is why we would read in verse 17, when they saw him, they worshiped him, but some doubted. They doubted themselves because they're thinking hey, we bailed on our master and here he is, he's done everything that he said he was going to do. We didn't believe. We said we weren't going to deny him, but we all did. We're losers. This is what they're thinking and Jesus looks at them. And this great commission is not just a charge, it's a comfort. It's a comfort, it's a charge and it's the graciousness of Jesus. He came and said to them All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make discipleship mandate where Jesus commissions them.

Speaker 1:

It's important to know that the last words recorded by someone are often significant and they're worth heeding. And these are the last words that Matthew records of Jesus and he tells them make disciples. Well, a disciple is a disciplined learner, it's a follower of another. What is Christian discipleship? I guess the simplest way to put it is helping others follow Jesus better or more faithfully, more intentionally, however you want to put it, but at the core it is helping others follow Jesus. It's not helping others follow the Pleasing God podcast. That might be a tool for discipleship Great but it's not helping others follow any preacher or system or body of doctrine, while those are helpful, those are channels and means, but discipleship is helping others follow Jesus, christian discipleship, and so just kind of defining that term. That's the task, that's the mandate that's been given.

Speaker 1:

And some would look and say well, that was given to the apostles or the disciples. Sure, it was. Just. Like you know, the book of Ephesians was written to the church in Ephesus, just like so much of what the Bible has. I mean Moses wrote the Pentateuch to people in the wilderness. Just because in the historical context of who it was originally spoken to, that does not necessitate or mean that this command is not ongoing.

Speaker 1:

And William Carey was the one who really argued for this in the advent of the modern missions movement, whereas many in churches, even post-Reformation, they were looking and they read the Great Commission as already fulfilled in the time of the apostles. And Carey argued that that just can't be, because the command to continually be baptizing and continually teaching and Christ's promised continual presence to the end of the age meant that the command to go and make disciples was continual as well. And so he argued, I think convincingly, of why we need to go and we need to make disciples wherever we are, among whomever we are. And so that was what drove Carey out to, and so that was what drove Carey out to India and thus began the modern missions movement. And it was his understanding of Matthew 28 that was part of that.

Speaker 1:

No-transcript Follow Jesus. Well, in this Great Commission, we're told of two ways. He says baptizing them in a Trinitarian baptism and teaching them. What do these two terms mean? Well, baptism is the rite of passage into the visible church, and so when we think about baptizing, this really connotates evangelism. This is front lines discipleship.

Speaker 1:

I think an unhealthy category that happens largely is that evangelism is seen as its own discipline, own discipline. I think this happened with a lot of well-intended traveling evangelists over the middle part of the 20th century and maybe even before that. You can go all the way back maybe to Second Great Awakening and onward from that and circuit preachers and things of that nature tent revivals which kind of just evolved into mass evangelism. Evangelism was never intended to stand on its own. It's not a category or a discipline that belongs in isolation. Evangelism is a subcategory of discipleship, evangelism is a subcategory of discipleship. So what we see here in Jesus's discipleship mandate the baptizing them is the front lines work that needs to be done.

Speaker 1:

And as someone comes to faith they're baptized and they hear the gospel and they're being evangelized, they're brought into the church and then begins the ongoing, continual process of discipleship teaching them to obey all that I commanded or observe all that I have commanded. And so I think a healthy way that we should think about what discipleship is is reaching the lost and teaching the believers. Nobody graduates from discipleship, because a disciple can only rise up to its master and the master is Jesus, and we're never going to get there. But it's a lifelong process of being conformed into the image of Christ, and the process is that of reaching back to those that are newly baptized or those that have been brought in to the church and helping to continually grow them, because discipleship is reproducing. It has to be Disciples.

Speaker 1:

Make disciples, Jesus says here, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Well, one of the things that the disciples would have had to teach them is that Jesus commanded us to make disciples, and so in order to observe or obey that command, you must be making disciples. This isn't the task of pastors. Let me rephrase that this isn't just the task for pastors or some sort of elite type Christians. Disciple-making, a disciple-making community, is what a church is supposed to be. You see, at the end of Matthew, when the apostles get this great commission, what do they do with it? How do they practically implement the great commission? You'd have to flip over to the book of Acts, and the book of Acts is about planting churches.

Speaker 1:

In many ways, this is how they took this command to make disciples and they created, they planted, these discipleship communities where a bunch of people that were new believers, baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, would come together to be taught how to obey Jesus. And as they came together and they did these things, they were called the gathering of the called out ones. Called the gathering of the called out ones, the Greek term was ecclesia. We translate that as church, and so, as the disciples were gathering together and following the discipleship mandate, the natural outflow was churches, and churches are communities filled with people who are followers of Jesus, true churches, healthy churches that are helping others follow Jesus. That's organically what it was and what it's supposed to be in its purest sense. And so a church that doesn't do discipleship, that raises a lot of questions, because discipleship matters, because Jesus has called upon the church to be that place, that ministry hub, that community of disciple making.

Speaker 1:

And so, when we think through what this is, it involves teaching, involves instruction. You can't teach and instruct the people that you're not around, and in order to teach and instruct and to pass on information, there has to be relationships. So the implications are far-reaching and the content of our teaching is the commands of Jesus. It is the word of Christ. We could say the whole counsel of God. Specifically, you could deal with the 212 commands of Jesus in the gospels. That's enough to get you going for a long time.

Speaker 1:

I think it's important to make that point when we're dealing with what the content is of teaching. It's not teaching our own morality, it's not teaching even of our own authority. Apart from the Bible. We have no authority, doesn't matter your pastor, leadership, whoever you are, you got nothing apart from the Bible. And so we recognize that the authority is the word of God that's come from. Authority is the word of God that's come from the word made flesh, who says he has all authority in heaven and on earth. And so when we teach, when we instruct, when we disciple, when we help others, we understand we're speaking with delegated authority. It does not come from within us. But we should also recognize that as we are teaching the word of Christ, as we should, and helping others to live that out, we should speak authoritatively because it is God's authority. And so, as Christ has commanded, so we can say thus saith the Lord, this is how we should live.

Speaker 1:

And at the end of the passage we see the promise of Christ where he says I am with you, always to the end of the age, the spirit of Christ within us, the presence of Christ around us. And we need to see this as comfort, because oftentimes we think discipleship that's hard, I don't know what to say, I don't know what to do. I've never been discipled, I've had to figure it out on my own. I can't do that, that's for someone else. Jesus promises that if we are faithful, he is with us and we need to take that as a comfort. And we need to think about doing it and trusting in the power of Christ, because Jesus desires to build his church. More than that, jesus has promised to build his church and that all the schemes, all the plots, all the distractions, every tactic of the gates of hell will not prevail against it. How does Jesus build his church? Through disciples. Making disciples by teaching, by preaching, by proclaiming, by living, by serving, by taking the commands that Jesus has given and just doing them. If we are committed to obeying Jesus and his commands, making disciples, living out the Sermon on the Mount and all the practical implications, if we are trusting Jesus for his means of church growth through discipleship, we can trust that he will grow his church.

Speaker 1:

I was reading a book on discipleship I don't remember exactly the quote by Robbie Gallaty, and he said something along the lines when God determines the health of a church, he doesn't measure its width but weighs its depth, and I just thought that was just a wonderful, wonderful quote. It's not about how big or how wide, but it's how deep and how much intentionality and seriousness is going on. You could fill a church, but are you making disciples? And I think that's just what we need to see as Christians. This is our calling, this is our purpose. We have been called to be disciples and so we do that in obedience to Christ. We follow his command and the scope he says is of all nations. So this means wherever you are, to whomever God places in your path. It doesn't mean necessarily you need to go to China Maybe you do, but we can make disciples in our neighborhood, in our backyard.

Speaker 1:

We could start by talking to people, even in our church, and saying, hey, do you want to read the Bible together and finding ways of building that, connections and community and transparency and trust and love and accountability, and it can explode, it can be explosive. And so, as we think through just a little bit of what discipleship is, defining the term of helping others to follow Jesus, looking at the discipleship mandate in Matthew 28 of go and baptize, so distinguishing and understanding that evangelism is front lines discipleship and nobody graduates from the discipleship academy. We just continue to grow and then recruit those in and grow them and send them to recruit those in and see a not a revolving door but an ever-increasing turnover as we seek to follow Jesus. So this is discipleship. This is what we are called to do teaching to obey Jesus, what his commands are. He's dealing with the moral, mostly the moral implications of his commands, remembering that Christ's presence is with us in doing so. So, believer, don't be discouraged. Don't be discouraged.

Speaker 1:

If you hear this and you're thinking I don't do that, take it as a challenge. Approach someone and say, hey, do you want to read the Bible with me? It is the simplest question. Just say, hey, do you want to get together for a cup of coffee and read the Bible? And it's a good starting point and let relationships organically flow from that. You don't need to go up to someone and say I want to disciple you, because then they feel like they're your project and we're not trying to do that. We're trying to help each other, and in helping others, the other person helps us.

Speaker 1:

And so the small steps, practical things we can think about in discipling and being in a discipleship community. So ask yourself who are you discipling? Who has discipled you? How are we living out this discipleship mandate as we seek to live lives that are pleasing to God? There's so much more we can say. I think this is good for now, just to kind of talk through as a beginning, but I certainly want to think more about practical ways of doing this, as well as looking at some other scriptures that really kind of point to examples Paul, timothy, titus and how we can have a holistic approach to thinking about making disciples for the glory of God. I want to thank you for listening to the Pleasing God podcast. If you have any questions, I would love to hear from you. You can reach out at questions at pleasinggodpodcastorg. And remember 1 Thessalonians 4.3,. This is the will of God, your sanctification.

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