Dr. Bill Hull in his book Jesus, the Disciplemaker writes, “when Jesus told the disciples to go and make disciples of all nations, they knew what He meant:He had taught them by His example, and they understood the principles and priorities they had seen in His behavior.They were to win others to the faith and make more of what they were.”
Over 25 years ago, while serving on a summer ministry team in New York City, I began wondering why we had seen so many people make decisions for Christ and yet so very few have any life-change. Steve Benniger, my ministry partner for the summer, and I, came to several conclusions.We realized that we were not stressing the biblical concepts of God’s holiness, repentance, and committed faith in our Gospel presentation.I am so thankful for the Evangelism Explosion training that HBC offers in order for us to be thoroughly grounded.
Once we had our Gospel Presentation fully grounded in Scriptural doctrine, we returned to many of those who had made decisions.After a few weeks we began to see several make genuine life changing decisions for Christ.There were two things that made a real difference this time around.First of all, we had the Gospel facts correct.But just as important, those who made these decisions informed us that they understood the truth of the Gospel by having the opportunity to see us live our lives on a daily basis in their neighborhoods.You couple genuine lives with a Biblical Gospel and you will begin to see true conversions.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus modeled the first phase of His four phase development process of making disciples.He started with unsaved men.In John 1:35, John the Baptist tells two of his disciples ‘Look, the Lamb of God.’They began to follow Jesus and asked Him ‘Where are you staying (vs. 37)?’Jesus simply replied ‘Come and See’().Most experts in the Gospels believe that the disciples did not come to faith until some time after they were called to follow.Here Jesus simply feeds the curiosity of these two men by telling them to come and see.What an invitation.These men did see many things that verified that Jesus was the Messiah.They witnessed His character, lifestyle, ministry, miracles and teachings.They got to see first hand before they committed their lives to Jesus.They heard the Gospel but it was validated by the day by day relationship that He built with them.
Too often we begin and end our evangelism with a presentation without ever inviting people to “Come and See.”Why is that?Here are some questions for us to ponder.What are we inviting people to see today?What have we allowed God to do in our lives recently that we could invite people to see?What is happening in our church today that a lost world would want and need to see?
The Apostle Paul clearly teaches us that being a Christian means that we are to be conformed to image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29).So why are so many Christians no different than the average person at work or in your neighborhood? Aren’t Christ-followers supposed to be like Christ?Paul writes the following to the church in Rome, Romans 12:1-2 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-- this is your spiritual act of worship.2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-- his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Dr. Bill Hull believes that being conformed/transformed into the image Jesus includes six areas of transformation.The goal is to be formed into the image of Jesus.Therefore, being conformed leads to being transformed.It is important to remember that the model that we are being transformed into is not the church model but the person of Jesus Christ.Here is Hull’s Six-fold Definition of Being Transformed:
1. Transformed Mind: Believe as Jesus Believed
2. Transformed Character: Live the Way Jesus Lived
3. Transformed Relationships: Love as Jesus Loved
4. Transformed Habits: Train as Jesus Trained
5. Transformed Service: Minister as Jesus Ministered
6. Transformed Influence: Lead as Jesus Led
Transformational discipleship rests upon the practice of spiritual disciplines.However, if the practice of spiritual disciplines becomes an end in itself then we have arrived at modern day Pharisaism or legalism.Spiritual disciplines without a goal will conform but will never transform.Transformation requires a disciple to ask themselves the following questions as they practice the spiritual disciplines:
In this situation am I believing as Jesus believed?
“am I living the way that Jesus lived?
“do I love this person the way Jesus would love this person?
“am I training spiritually as Jesus would have trained?
“do I serve the Lord and his people as Jesus served His Father?
“am I leading others as Jesus led others?In other words, am I finding and making disciples for Jesus?
Jesus Himself said it best, “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” (Luke 6:40).
 Bill Hull The Complete Book of Discipleship (Colorado Springs: NAVPRESS, 2006), pg. 130-152.
iscipleship is a term that we hear a lot about here at Heritage but do we really understand what a disciple is?Would you be able to recognize a disciple of Jesus Christ?What does one look like?What does one do?How does one act?Are you a disciple of Jesus Christ?How would anyone know?What are the characteristics of a disciple of Jesus Christ?If I am striving to be a disciple, what am I striving to become?
The Scriptures are clear that a disciple is a follower of Jesus Christ.Unfortunately, American Christianity has labeled people who simply believe as Christians.Jesus teaches that to have faith means to follow.Following Jesus was the first test of a person’s faith.If person does not follow Jesus, it is clear that he does not have faith (Luke 9:23-25).
I have thoroughly enjoyed my personal Bible study over the past several years.I have been camping out in the Gospels trying to figure out how Jesus trained twelve very ordinary men, who eventually turned the world upside down for Christ (Acts 17:6).These men were identified by their competencies.Dr. Bill Hull in his book The Complete Book of Discipleship lists five competencies that I have verified in Jesus’ training of the twelve.A true follower (disciple) of Jesus will model the following competencies in his/her everyday life.
1. A disciple submits to a teacher who teaches him/her to follow Jesus
2. A disciple learns Jesus’ words
3. A disciple learns Jesus’ way of ministry
4. A disciple imitates Jesus’ life and character
5. A disciple finds and teaches other disciples for Jesus.
Are you submitting to Christ every day in every situation in order to accomplish His purpose or are you living for yourself?
Are you actively learning His words through regular personal study of His Word (Bible)?Are you actively hearing His Word to guide, direct and form your life?
Are you actively involved in His ministry learning to serve and love others as Jesus did?
Are you imitating His life so that your character is a reflection of His in each and every situation and relationship?
Are you actively involved in winning and training the next generation of followers who will eventually win and train the generation that will lead once they are gone?Are you reproducing yourself in the lives of the next generation?
Are you a Christ follower (disciple) who is on a life long journey of knowing and serving Him or just a spectator who is content to know the facts and watch the game.Christianity is not a spectators sport; it is a participant’s sport.A disciple is one who believes.True faith means to follow. No following; no faith.
In the interest of creating a discipleship culture at Heritage Baptist Church, I am attempting to use as many avenues that are at my disposal. My purpose is to equip and train an army of believers committed to personal life transformation and the transformation of broken, ruined, and hurting lives within our realm of influence. Discipleship is in essence the Great Commission. I will present my heart and thoughts within this blog as God continues to mold my passion into His passion. Jesus said 'Follow Me.' As a disciple, I desire and long to be like Jesus. His method was to follow Him. So, what does that mean? What is a disciple? What does it mean to be a follower? Jesus also said 'Follow me and I will make your fishers of men' (Matthew 4:19, Mark 1:17). What does 'fishers of men' mean? What does that look like? How do I become a disciple? How do I become a fisher of men? What is the process? What are the steps that I need to take? How long will the process take? I hope to provide those answers as I continue to learn them. I look forward to journaling my thoughts and passion in the coming days.