Posts tagged ‘discipleship’

Preaching, Teaching & Discipling

One of the things we discover in the art of education is the difference between types of learning and methods of instruction. In many subject areas, there is a set progression of instruction, and often one that involves changes in delivery and interaction as the student progresses. The same is true of the truth found in the New Testament. There is, I believe, a discernible pattern of instruction that will be helpful to grasp so that we are doing the things that are most beneficial to ourselves and those who hear us.

The first type of instruction is preaching. This is different than teaching, which is why the Holy Spirit inspired the writers to use a different Greek word for each. The word translated “preach” is kerusso, which means “to herald (as a public crier), especially divine truth (the gospel):–preacher(-er), proclaim, publish.”
This involves the initial public proclamation of the Gospel message. Like a herald, we preach Christ (1 Corinthians 1:23) to a lost world. This preaching is evangelistic, and calls people’s attention to Jesus Christ and what has been done to bring them to God.

but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (I Corinthians 1:23, 24 NKJV)

This is the work of an evangelist, like the young Timothy, and is a never ending obligation of believers as we go about in the world.

As the message goes forth, there will be the need to teach those who respond to our preaching. Paul links the two nicely when giving instruction to Timothy.

I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. (II Timothy 4:1, 2 NKJV)

There is no hint here of getting people saved and leaving them to fend for themselves. Rather, there is the sense that after preaching, people need to be taught “all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19). The word for teaching is different than for preaching (didacho). This teaching incorporates instruction and example as a means of learning spiritual truth. But in order to be effective, teaching must be done to those who have responded to the preaching and been saved. An unsaved person cannot understand spiritual things, so we are wasting our time teaching without first preaching.

But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (I Corinthians 2:14 NKJV)

The most in depth level of instruction is discipling. The Greek word is matethouo. This is the ultimate goal for everyone we encounter. In the Great Commission, Jesus didn’t stop at preaching or at teaching, but at “making disciples”. This includes hearing the truth, seeing it lived out, and then internalizing it by personal practice. Discipleship can only be fully learned by doing. That is one reason that those who teach must be careful, not only of what they say, but what they do.
Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.

Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. (I Timothy 4:15, 16 NKJV)

This is the way to make mature Christians, who will be able to go and make disciples themselves.

And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (II Timothy 2:2 NKJV)

Only by following this pattern of instruction will we practice biblical spiritual growth. We must not be like those who preach, but do not teach or disciple. That is a recipe for weak Christians who are dependent on someone keeping them alive by feeding them nothing but milk. They are unable to teach others and will never have the fruit of being or making disciples.

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. (Hebrews 5:12 NKJV)

May this never be said of us! But instead, may we follow the pattern of preaching, teaching and discipling that results in many saved and bearing much spiritual fruit, as we exercise the gifts which Christ has given for our benefit.

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16 NKJV)

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Strong And Courageous

Times of transition in leadership can be stressful. When the lives of others are in your hands, and there has been a sudden departure of the only leader the people have ever known, the prospect of assuming leadership can be even more intimidating. Such was the situation that Joshua was thrust into upon the passing of Moses.

After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. (Joshua 1:1, 2 ESV)

Joshua was probably feeling very inadequate to the task at hand. I believe that because of what God says to him after this. I don’t think God wastes words, and He would not have said what He did next in order to give Joshua the confidence needed to accomplish the mission God had given the nation.

God begins by assuring Joshua that he would have God’s backing in the same way Moses did.

No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. (Joshua 1:5 ESV)

He then goes on to tell Joshua what would be required for him to succeed. The problem Joshua must have been contending with was fear of failure in such a monumental undertaking. Otherwise, why would God have repeated the same instruction three times?

Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:6-9 ESV)

The positive command is given to be strong and courageous, and is restated in the negative a fourth time as “do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed.” And He did not just give the command, but told Joshua how to gain the courage and strength. He was to constantly talk about and meditate upon the Book of the Law. By keeping the promises of the Word of God constantly in his mouth and mind, his courage and strength would not be rooted in his own abilities and talents, but upon God.

By constant meditation on God’s Word, he would also be better equipped to mentor those who would someday replace him when he died, in the same way Moses had done for him. Centuries later, Paul would give similar advice to Timothy.

and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2 ESV)

This was very effective, as we can see at the end of the Book of Joshua. Those who served with Joshua and witnessed his example were all faithful to the God he had served, and led Israel in the right path.

Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua and had known all the work that the Lord did for Israel. (Joshua 24:31 ESV)

So whatever situation or circumstance is before you, be strong and very courageous. Keep the Word of God “dwelling in you richly” and believe what God says and not what man may say. In doing so you will be brought safely through to the other side of the problem, and will set an example for others to follow after you are gone!

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Who Is Your Joshua?

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4 NASB)

While this verse is fairly straightforward, I like how it is translated for the Amplified Bible.

Fathers, do not irritate and provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to resentment], but rear them [tenderly] in the training and discipline and the counsel and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4 AMP)

There are literally shelves full of books on how to do this. Of course the first one, by the Author of family relationships is the best. Look for a moment at Deuteronomy 6.

“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 NASB)

The first part of these verses are called “The Shema” in Hebrew. THE SHEMA is the central prayer in the Jewish prayerbook (Siddur) and is often the first section of Scripture that a Jewish child learns. During its recitation in the synagogue, Orthodox Jews pronounce each word very carefully and cover their eyes with their right hand. Many Jews recite the Shema at least twice daily: once in the morning and once in the evening. Parts of the Shema are written on a small scroll which is then rolled up and put inside a mezuzah. Thus the literally put this on their door posts.

A godly heritage is a most precious gift, and is something that should be treasured by those of us who had godly fathers who taught us the Word. That is why there is such a huge emphasis on this in Hebrew culture. Notice that this teaching was to occur while normal everyday conversation took place. This assumes that fathers are talking to their children. The way to provoke a child to resentment and wrath is to have rules without relationship. Only when there is a trust built up will a child believe that rules are for their good and spoken in love, rather than arbitrary. In that context, this generational passing down of the law of God is very intentional. I believe it is no accident that Jehovah is not just referred to as “the God of Abraham”, but calls Himself “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

But what about those who did not have the advantage of a Christian father? Is there provision for them? Yes!

There are many examples in scripture of young men being mentored in the things of God, or discipled, by those who are older in the faith. We have examples from the Apostle Paul of Silas, Titus, and Timothy. Barnabas even took John Mark under his wing and turned him from an unreliable travel companion to someone who was “useful in the ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:11
Paul differentiates between these relationships and those of strictly a teacher. In 1 Corinthians Paul wrote,
For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Therefore I urge you, imitate me. For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church. (1 Corinthians 4:15-17 NKJV)
In the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy 3:27-28, Jehovah instructed Moses like this.
Look at the land with your own eyes, since you are not going to cross this Jordan. But commission Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see.
I like the way Phil Ware from Heartlight describes what happened in his “Today’s Verse” devotional.
“Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt and in the wilderness, but did not get to enter into the Promised Land because of his sin. Yet, for all those years, Moses nurtured and prepared the person who would do what he could not do. That person was Joshua. Who are you training, molding, encouraging, motivating, and calling to do what you won’t be able to do? What successor will take your dreams farther than you can? Who is your Joshua?”

May we make it our mission to come alongside those who have had no spiritual heritage and disciple them. As we help them to grow in the things of God, we will also reap an eternal benefit!

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