“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matt. 28:18–19, NKJV).
Jesus charges His church with making disciples. If you were to put together a Discipleship 101 curriculum that sets the tone and charts the way what would it include?
I propose four building blocks for positioning disciples to grow in the grace and knowledge of their Lord Jesus Christ, and commend to you five resources as guides in laying a biblical foundation.
First, disciples must be established in the faith, a faith grounded and centered on Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul beckons those who have bowed the knee before Christ as Lord to a life of learning and living out that lordship. “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving” (Col. 2:6-7).
A syllabus for grounding disciples in a Christ-centered faith can be found in the Apostles’ Creed. The Christian’s Creed: Embracing the Apostolic Faith (Reformation Heritage Books, 177 pages) explores these basics of the Christian faith to help disciples grasp the vocabulary, concepts, and narrative of the biblical gospel. A separate Christian’s Creed Workbook (Waxed Tablet Publications, 68 pages) serves as a study guide for the book and a tool to stimulate faith interaction with the teachings of the Creed.
Second, disciples must be positioned for spiritual growth. Jesus explained this when He says: “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).
Disciples must be taught to abide as an outworking of their union with Christ. Only through abiding in Christ will they develop authentic fruit of the Spirit, much fruit, fruit that will endure as Christ is formed in them. A Vine-Ripened Life: Spiritual Fruitfulness through Abiding in Christ (Reformation Heritage Books, 170 pages) equips disciples to abide and explores the development of Christian character as a product of the Spirit rather than stark self-effort.
Third, disciples must be trained to pray. Integral to growth in glorifying and enjoying God is prayer. As communication is the lifeblood of any relationship, so prayer is life giving to the believer’s communion with the living God. In addition, prayer is God’s ordained means for the accomplishment of His purposes. Pastors are to equip disciples for the work of ministry. No ministry is more essential to Christian life and service than the ministry of prayer.
Why Do We Pray? (P&R Basics of the Faith Series) is a 32-page primer designed to incite disciples to pray by explaining God’s design for prayer. It also gives guidance on the practice of prayer, particularly through Jesus’s teaching on the subject and surveying the psalms.
Finally, disciples need to be made aware of a perspective brought to bear by every New Testament author, that being spiritual opposition. They need to be equipped to conduct spiritual warfare in a biblically sound manner, not as something extraordinary or occasional to the Christian life but as something encountered as part of ordinary life in this fallen world.
What is Spiritual Warfare? (P&R Basics of the Faith Series) is a 44-page overview of the Bible’s teaching on the subject. It describes the battleground on this side of the fall and orients to our enemy’s intentions and schemes. It goes on to equip Christ’s disciples in how to stand firm against the adversary’s accusations, deceptions, and temptations.
Grounding in the faith, positioning to abide, equipping in prayer, and preparing for spiritual conflict are four elements basic to the growth and vitality of disciples of Jesus Christ.
“Father, grant me grace, wisdom, and determination in making disciples. In Jesus' name. Amen."
Scripture quotations marked NKJV are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Those marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.