TENETS OF DISCIPLESHIP – ELEVATION CHURCH
WHAT IS A DISCIPLE?
A disciple is an “ experiential learner”
- In the world of the Bible, a disciple was a person who followed a teacher, or rabbi, or master, or philosopher. The disciple desired to learn not only the teaching of the rabbi, but to imitate the practical details of their life.
- Jesus modeled this discipleship lifestyle to His original disciples that we read about in the 4 gospel accounts of Jesus’ earthly ministry in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It’s why they called Him, ‘rabbi’ or teacher. Later, as they grew closer to know Him and His true purpose for coming to earth, they identified Him as Lord and savior of the world.
- “When the pupil is ready, the teacher appears.” In Christ, the Holy Spirit is our teacher and instructor. We learn directly from Him. However, He uses the word of God – the Bible – and other disciples to ‘train and equip’ others in His ways and His lifestyle.
- It’s important to know that Jesus modeled the way with a supernatural lifestyle abandoned to the will of His Father.
- Luke 2:52 says Jesus ‘grew in wisdom and in stature’ – increasing in favor with both God and with people – Jesus modeled a lifestyle of listening and learning.
- Philippians 2 says Jesus emptied Himself of His divine privilege. He played by our rules. He is and always has been fully-God. He is also fully-man. And so, in His entrance into this world physically as a baby – straight to His death on the cross and resurrection, Jesus modeled EVERYTHING a disciple can be as a son and daughter of God.
- Jesus replicated Himself and made disicples. It’s why-in Matthew 28:19 He instructed us to make disciples of all the nations. It’s not just making individual disciples in each nation. The empowerment calls for us to also ‘disciple nations.’
- 2000 years ago, Jesus’ lifestyle both embraced and challenged the cultural times He lived in. He was ‘culturally relevant’ yet ‘culturally-resistant’ to mindsets and lifestyles contrary to His kingdom culture and core values. On earth as it is in heaven. Every day. In each and every situation He faced. So what does this mean for the 21st century disciple? And how should it look in our era?
- Scripture tells us that Peter had a wife, because Jesus healed his mother-in-law. Peter was a family man. He had a traveling ministry with Jesus. And he was vital in the building of the early church. He had to balance work and home. There was a season to be on the road with Jesus. Another season to come back to the home front. After the resurrection, Peter saw his primary ministry was to the Jew, not the gentiles. Paul on the other hand, was called by God primarily to those outside of the Jewish culture. Both men were vital. One man was single and could travel all over. The other was a family man who didn’t venture out beyond Judea much. Not better or worse. Just different. Each with incredible kingdom impact as a part of a kingdom-lifestyle. Authentic disciples, then. A blue-print for discipleship, now!
What does a ’21st Century Disciple look like?
- There is a common misperception among Christians that a disciple must look and act a certain part. But if it requires acting, it’s still an act and not a lifestyle. Only the ‘real churchy’ people are disciples, whatever ‘churchy’ means, right? Others may look at Jesus’ traveling ministry and decide they don’t have to ‘disciple’ others or be a disciple because their lives can’t or won’t look like Jesus.
- There is another common misperception among Christians that a disciple is marked only by love for others and good moral character. Yet, an absence of supernatural power is excused because we now have the Bible and Jesus doesn’t need to demonstrate His power in supernatural and miraculous ways.
- Common barriers to walking in supernatural power?
- o Unworthiness:
- § People may disqualify themselves from doing the works of Jesus because they are not Jesus. It can lead to false humility and/or be-littling your value which significantly works against you stepping out in faith. But the truth is, His grace qualifies to do what He did! John 14:12 talks about His body doing greater things! Be open and flexible! You are worthy because Jesus MADE you worthy, in Him!
- o Failure:
- § People may disqualify themselves from doing the works of Jesus because they are afraid of failure. Or that God will punish them if they try and step out and fail. Or that a leader will shame them if they do? This is inconsistent with Jesus’ training of His disciples. Study their lives and you will find Jesus often giving them spiritual PROMOTIONS after some of their biggest blunders.
- § Sin-Consciousness:
- People may disqualify themselves from doing the works of Jesus because they may have had moral lapses, made mistakes, and live with a constant barrage of thoughts that tells them they are sinful. It feeds on negativity and before the person knows it, they are completely ‘out of the game’ under the weight of condemnation. But the truth is, Jesus declares us ‘saints’ not sinners – our nature in Him is to live and be like Him. Anything that doesn’t give you hope is under the influence of a lie. Anything that doesn’t look, act or sound like Jesus is a place for you to believe for HIS upgrade.
- A disciple honors the Bible in it’s enormous instructional, historical, and revelational value in the life of believers. A disciple of Jesus filters the written word through the lens of Jesus. Anything or any thought process in the Bible that contradicts Jesus’ words or modeled lifestyle, you have good reason to question and challenge it. He is the ‘Living Word’ and is the ultimate authority. He will never violate His word, but He often violates our interpretation of His word. A disciple is willing to challenge what they once to knew to unlock what they need to know. What you currently know can hinder what He needs you to know if you don’t remain a life-long learner.
- You might be an entrepreneur, a stay-at-home parent, an on-the-go corporate jet-setter, a teacher, student, government official, fire-fighter, law enforcement personnel, lawyer, doctor, health care practitioner, retailer, retiree or full-time pastoral minister. No matter who you are. No matter how busy you are or how much free-time you have…understand you and I are called to ministry. As a Christian – as a lifestyle. Not everyone is called to full-time paid vocational pastoral church work in ministry. But everyone, in Christ, is a minister. And the most effective minister’s are the one’s who are a disciple.
- A disciple in today’s culture follows the Prince of Peace-Jesus, and not just His biblical principles. Jesus speaks to each of us uniquely through our giftings, callings, and anointings. So it’s important that we learn to hear Him clearly to us. He speaks to us in His word, the Bible. He also speaks to us clearly and specifically in union with our spirit. Scripture tells us that we are one with Him. So you hear Him better than you think. A disciple anticipates His voice and acts on it. Why? Because they know He is better than we think. So we adjust and change the way we think. To think more like He thinks!
- A disciple carries high value for humility and the cost of actually following Jesus in hard spaces and places because they know real surrender to Him is the one and only pathway to real peace. Jesus paid it all at the cross. He died so we could live. He was willing to pay the ultimate price. A disciple is willing to pay the price to go after God and bring Jesus a real return on His investment. He doesn’t call us to idolize the comfortable, but embrace a servant’s heart to step into the uncomfortable when called upon with joy in doing so.
- A disciple carries high value for freedom with responsibility. We understand that I am not free to do everything we want. We are free to do what is right and what He wants!
- A disciple allows the restorative and empowering work of the Holy Spirit to shape and mold them into Jesus’ image over the course of their life into mature, fully devoted followers of Christ.
- A disciple flows in a lifestyle of generosity, like our Heavenly Father. We are generous with our time, talents, and resources because He is and we are made in His image.
- A 21st century disciple isn’t transformed into the image of ‘rabbi’ like the Old Covenant Jewish culture in Bible….but the goal is to be transformed into the image of Jesus. When you find your tribe and pull on the ‘grace gifts’ of a church culture, God shapes you more into His image. Your church family is your home, where He begins to unveil your authentic identity, giftings, calling, and anointing. When you find your family, you find your destiny!