Discipleship that multiplies is the core for every single ministry in the church! If we are not making disciples, then how can we say that we are disciples? Since our calling, our purpose, our identity in Christ is to “go and make disciples.” When Christ redeemed us through His work on the cross, He set before us this purpose we should toil after all of our days. Paul said it this way: “to present everyone mature in Christ.” (Colossians 1:28) There is no greater calling than to make disciples! That is our purpose in Christ for every single Believer!
So, what is discipleship? That is a big question. A question we ask many times, in which we give an answer that we have no idea how to do in our life.
Let me offer this working definition of discipleship: an invitation to join the Holy Spirit in the work He is already doing. We see this working of the Holy Spirit throughout Scripture!
“And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
‘He has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him.’ (Colossians 1:22)
How do we partner in the work of the Holy Spirit?
Principle #1: Discipleship is partnering in the work the Holy Spirit is already doing.
“Whoever has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” John 14:21
The Holy Spirit is constantly working in the lives of those whom He indwells. For that reason, as we are being discipled or discipling others, His work is displayed through a pattern that Jesus gave us in John. That pattern is this:
- As we hear God’s Word
- Then we Obey God’s Word
- Through our Obedience He will help us Learn God’s Word
- He will also help us to Understand God’s Word
Jesus told us here that He will reveal more of Himself to us through our obedience to Him, not simply knowledge about Him. He said the core tenet for us to know Him more and understand Him more was through our obedience! It is in that laboring for obedience that we partner in the work of the Holy Spirit. He is the one that ‘wills in us works in us.’ (Philippians 2:12-13)
Here we must understand that discipleship is not only reading the Bible, asking questions, and praying. It is not only on the person we are discipling because discipleship is about us walking in obedience with them. It is not about fully understanding God’s Word before we obey Him.
Rather than teaching knowledge, discipleship is us modeling obedience for those we are discipling. Essentially, we display to them the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives to show them how to follow after Jesus. As Paul said, ‘follow me as I follow Christ.’ (1 Corinthians 11:1) This is about life-on-life discipleship — that as the Spirit dwells within us, then we should dwell in the lives of those we disciple. It is more than one day a week, rather it is throughout the week!
Principle #2: In discipleship, knowledge follows obedience.
“For everyone who lives on milk is still an infant, unskilled in the word of righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant practice have trained their senses to distinguish good from evil.”
Obedience is built through us modeling for others and simply doing it. That is what the writer of Hebrews said here. He gave us two realities of discipleship:
- Those on milk.
- Those on solid food.
Those on milk he said are unskilled, meaning lacking in experience, in knowing, and applying God’s Word. They simply have no obedience or practice in obeying. Meaning they can have the knowledge without obedience.
Those on solid food have the powers of discernment, meaning they have learned God’s Word and they have understanding of it. This discernment though does not come from their knowledge, rather he said it came from their constant practice, or in other words their consistent obedience to God’s Word. The Greek word used here for trained is where we get the word gymnasium and gymnast. The Scripture tells us here that knowledge follows obedience.
As we obey God’s Word, then our knowledge to discern God’s Word grows. In other words, as our obedience grows then our character grows, and as our character grows our knowledge grows, and as knowledge grows our ability to disciple grows, and as our ability to disciple grows then we are able to multiply disciples for God’s Kingdom!
Principle #3: Obedience flows out of our weekly patterns and rhythms.
Discipleship is joining the Holy Spirit in the work He is already doing. For this reason, our work of discipleship is to teach them God’s Word and model obedience to it. Our goal is not for them to gain knowledge, but to see them constantly and consistently obeying God’s Word. This happens through our discipling relationships in our weekly patterns and rhythms. These patterns and rhythms are our “repeatables.” What repeatables do you have in your discipleship? Do your repeatables lead others into obedience or only knowledge? What do your rhythms look like? Do your rhythms include you modeling obedience for them? How do they see the work of the Holy Spirit flow out of your life throughout the week?
This is our calling in discipleship: Go join the Holy Spirit in the work He is already doing in the lives of others through discipleship! This is our command, our invitation, our purpose!