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Six key passages for a discipler

March 6, 2016

A key can be a tool for entering a locked area, but it can also mean a valuable resource that helps give an explanation or a solution to a problem. In this series, we will look at some different keys that are crucial for anyone who is committed to making disciples, both on campus and throughout the world! While these keys are not guarantees of instant effectiveness, they’ll give us perspective and wisdom as we seek to live out Christ’s marching orders to making disciples of all nations.

In these articles, we will explore:

Six key passages for a discipler
Six key Principles for a discipler
Six key Convictions of a discipler
Six key Lifestyles of a discipler

Few (if any) of these thoughts are original, but they summarize keys that I have gleaned from those who seek to glorify God through bearing fruit, and finishing His work of making disciples of the nations (John 15, 17). We will begin by looking at six key passages for a discipler.

These texts have helped me clarify what we are called to do in making disciples as well as why and how we are to make disciples. These passages should be a significant focus of study, meditation, prayer, and application as we seek to make disciples of Christ.

  1. The Great Commission Texts (Matt 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:46-48, John 20:21, Acts 1:8) – In each of these texts, Christ commissions His followers and emphasizes unique details in each account. In Matthew, we see the ultimate objective: make disciples. In Mark, we see the necessity of the Gospel proclamation. In Luke, we see the call to repentance and the forgiveness that the mission brings to the nations. In John, we see the parallel of the mission to us as His disciples. Lastly, in Acts, we see both the descriptive scope of the Great Commission and the Holy Spirit’s ability to bring this about through the body of Christ! God strategically placed each of these texts to emphasize the nature of the mission and the priority that we are to place upon it.
  2. 1 Thessalonians 2:1-20 – This chapter, as much as any that I know in scripture, gives us an amazing picture of the heart, motivation, and method of making disciples. We read a snapshot of Paul’s ministry for the weeks or months that he was in Thessalonica during his second missionary journey. In the first six verses, we see that Paul labored as a steward and had the purest motives. In the following verses we read that, in addition to the gospel, Paul shared his life and the scriptures in order to establish them in their faith. He used the metaphor of parenthood to describe his relationship to them. At the end of the chapter we see Paul’s deep love for the Thessalonians as he says that when he stands before Christ, they will be his hope, joy, glory and crown! This is a great template for us as we give our lives away!
  3. John 17 – In this powerful passage, we see Jesus praying for the men whom he has poured his life into for the majority of His ministry. In this prayer we see not only his heart for these men, but also major themes of his discipleship. Jesus invests God’s word into them. He prays for their protection and that they would be sanctified as they are sent into the world with His mission. Jesus prays for their impact, multiplication, and unity as He uses these disciples to take the gospel to the world. Lastly, He prays for their eternal presence with Him and that they would experience the fullness of His glory.
  4. 2 Timothy 1:3-9 – 2 Timothy is rich in instruction about making disciples through the example of Paul and Timothy. In these opening verses, Paul’s love for Timothy is evident in his deep commitment to prayer. We see Paul longing for Timothy to live up to his potential and challenging Timothy, through God’s provision, to be a bold witness with the Gospel and to suffer for the mission. As Paul comes to the end of his life he is passing the baton to Timothy and wants to see him run the race well!
  5. 2 Timothy 2:1-10 – 2 Timothy 2 is frequently viewed as one of the clearest texts for making disciples in the Epistles, and rightly so! Paul begins, by showing us that the power of making disciples is found through the grace of God. In verse one, he shows us the pattern of making disciples through four generations of spiritual multiplication: Paul→ Timothy → Reliable Men → Others. In verses three through seven we see three mindsets necessary for making disciples through the metaphors of a soldier, athlete, and farmer. The soldier teaches us the necessity of suffering and the need for a single minded devotion. The athlete teaches us that victory is never by accident, but rather by diligent preparation and training. The farmer teaches us that making disciples is extremely hard work, but we will see the fruits of our labors in due time! Lastly, in verses eight through ten, Paul gives some of his motivations of making disciples. Those include the example of Christ and the gospel, the power of the word of God, and his heart to see the elect come to faith! No cost is too great to see lost people begin to follow Christ!
  6. 2 Timothy 3:10-11 – As Paul is reflecting upon and summarizing his discipling relationship with Timothy in these verses, he describes four key areas: Wisdom, Lifestyle, Vision, & Character. This provides a great template for us to consider as we disciple men and women. First, they need a foundation of wisdom or doctrine to build their faith upon and this comes through being saturated with Scripture. Second, they need to see our way of life in order to grasp the skills of following Christ. The famous American pastor Jonathan Edwards stated, “There are two ways of representing and recommending true religion in the world: the one, by doctrine and precept; the other, by instance and example.” Third, they need vision to see God’s purpose and mission and their role in it. Lastly, they need the character and faith to persevere through the challenges that following Christ will inevitably bring. Discipleship that fails to include any of these four key areas is deficient and won’t prepare those that we disciple to walk with God or labor for a lifetime.

Study these key passages, meditate on them and allow them to both inspire and give direction as you make disciples!

Reflection questions:

From the six passages, which gives you the most motivation in WHY you should make disciples?
From the six passages, which gives you the greatest insight in HOW you should make disciples?
Which one will you apply this week?