Although you will not find a doctrine of "discipling partners" explicitly spelled out in the NT, it is indisputable that the scriptures teach the necessity of discipling. The importance of ongoing discipleship should be clear to someone before baptism. This study aims to cultivate an attitude of openness on the part of the young Christian to discipling, as well as to remind him that, in the final analysis, it is the responsibility of the one who has confessed Jesus as Lord to persevere in his Christian growth.
Discipleship is not a human expedient; it is a command of God (Matthew 28:19).
1. Levels of discipling
2. Being discipled
See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.
Others disciple us.
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
The Word disciples us.
In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!
We disciple ourselves.
We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
The Lord (through circumstances requiring patience) disciples us, too.
3. Discipling yourself
2 Timothy 2:2
And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.
Discipling process: a chain reaction.
28 We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.
29 To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.
1 I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally.
The goal is maturity/completeness/perfection. There will be difficulties in any discipling relationship, but try to realize that the challenges you receive are made in love. Discipling is hard work.
1 Corinthians 11:1
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
Follow the good example of the one discipling you. He/she is not perfect, so follow only insofar as he/she is following Christ.
He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.
Attitude of openness to correction. If you have the wrong attitude, you will lead others astray.
For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure.
Ask for advice.
The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.
A mocker resents correction; he will not consult the wise.
Cherish challenge and initiate with the one discipling you.
39 He also told them this parable: "Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?
40 A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.
End result: becoming like your teacher, making his good points part of your own life and character.
11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn.
12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!
13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.
14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
Don't be slow to learn. By constant use (habit), train yourself. Ultimately, you are the one responsible for how you do spiritually. You cannot blame your failings on others.
- Arrange a regular time to meet together each week.
- Strive for daily contact.
- Read Gordon Ferguson's Discipling: God's Plan to Train and Transform his People (Woburn, Mass.: Discipleship Publications International, 1996).