Some time ago I had the privilege to work with a ministry in Detroit. During one of the breaks, God gave me an opportunity to share the discipleship vision with a pastor. He was very open to hear what the Spirit helped me understand over the years about this great topic.
I went straight to Luke 9:23 “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” When it comes to discipleship this is one my favorite verses. I told him that Jesus was clear about the requirements for discipleship.
Let me share some of the thoughts I shared with this dear pastor.
1) Deny SELF:
According to Jesus denying self is the starting point. Therefore knowledge of SELF is prerequisite for denying self. If you spell SELF backwards and add an ‘H’ at the end you obtain the word F-L-E-S-H. I believe the greatest obstacle towards genuine discipleship is the flesh. The problem is that Christians cannot crucify what they cannot define. That is why the knowledge of self is so important.
Food for thought: Please define SELF? Please define and describe your FLESH?
2) Take up his CROSS:
Subsequently, knowledge of the CROSS is required in order for one to embrace it. The ‘cross’ has lost its significance in preaching and teaching the Word of God in our days. That is why we don’t see too many Christians carrying their crosses. Most of the time we hear a cross-less gospel; a flesh-appealing, feel-good gospel. The danger is that a cross-less gospel becomes a Christ-less gospel. I am almost sure that some said that “A crossless church makes a Christless Christianity.” I am not sure about you but I fully agree with that statement.
Food for thought: Please provide the biblical definition of the CROSS? Please define the CROSS of Christ?
3) Follow Me:
All hinges in following Christ. In God’s economy follow-ship leads to fellow-ship. Ultimately, Christ wants us to have fellow-ship in order for our follow-ship to work. However, we cannot follow SOMEONE who we did not know. So, in discipleship, knowing Jesus is crucial. Why? Christ says: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). To know Christ personally and intimately is the very essence of the eternal life. John writes, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). Do you see this? In order to follow Jesus we must hear His voice. To have eternal life is to know Jesus. Knowing Jesus leads to knowing God. I hope you see these connections. And these are only a few of these spiritual connections the Holy Spirit is revealing to us through the Word of God.
Food for thought:
Please define biblical DISCIPLESHIP?
Please provide seven (7) spiritual dimensions of genuine discipleship?
Do you struggle with these concepts or have difficulties to address questions like:
Well… We strongly recommend enrolling in the Advanced Discipleship Training(ADT) where you will discover answers to these types of questions and much more. Soon we will move into MODULE VII: FREE in Christ - Understanding Spiritual Warfare. I have so much fun teaching this module!
For a 6 minutes video clip in ENG click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrHvbbWxZRs
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To register go to: http://urfm.org/adt-registration-forms.html
It is a mystery to me why Christians do not know the things mentioned above. Or, maybe there is a reason ‘why’ the spiritual dimensions of discipleship are hidden from so many. Maybe we need to be more involved in being discipled and making disciples. Maybe we need to take the Great Commission more literally. Just may be. Food for thought: What do you think? I love your comments!
With love in Christ’s service,
Spiritual Mentor / Life Coach
Motto: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23)
If we read and study the New Testament with an open heart, if we are setting our minds to understand its teachings, and if we are committed to apply it in our lives we cannot ignore the aspect of discipleship. I strongly believe that in order to see the practical results in the field of discipleship we need to comprehend the three important pillars on which discipleship stands. I call these pillars the 3-BIG C's of discipleship. These pillars are: (1) Commitment, (2) Continuation and (3) Consistency. ...
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The theme spiritual growth is not a new topic to God’s Church of the 21st century.
Therefore I want to write with openness and courage on this topic. Ponder this question in your heart: Is spiritual maturity optional? Or It is my birthright as a child of God?
In this sense, the Word of God, in Ephesians 4:11-16 tells us very clearly that God has ordained (given) in the church: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, working-hands-of-God with an extremely accurate purpose, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ (Eph. 4:12).
Paul develops this concept by showing that the state of the spiritual growth is to become “a mature man” (Eph. 4:13a). To be sure there is no confusion as to what he means, he emphasizes this concept exhorting us to attain “the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13b). Of course, this aspect involves the PROCESS of spiritual GROWTH and maturity.
Definition: “A very simple definition of the spiritual growth and maturity process (or spiritual formation) is the work of God through His grace by which we believers are renewed in the spirit of our minds by the Word of God, transformed by the Holy Spirit into the image of Christ in the inner person, and are increasingly empowered to live to our blood bought potential in Christ, for the glory of God and for the edification of others.”
Pastor Paul Billheimer writes in his book Don’t Waste your Sorrows, that “Maturing into advanced stages of a Christian character and agape love is, of necessity, a lifetime operation” (p. 87).
It seems clear that the work of spiritual growth and maturity (SG&M) is a difficult and delicate process. Based on the studies and research that I have done on spiritual formation, I realized that there at least seven (7) factors which underline this process.
Seven factors of Spiritual Growth and Maturity: Time & Dedication Factor, The Intentional Factor, The EFFORT Factor, The AGONY Factor, The SUFFERING factor, The BROKENNESS Factor, The COST factor.
1. Time & Dedication Factor:
The spiritual formation of the inner man requires time and dedication on our part – this does not happen overnight.
TIME: Jesus invested three years and a half (3 1/2 years) into twelve (12) disciples. This is the equivalent to about fifteen thousand hours.
DEDICATION: Apostle Paul, taking very seriously the mandate of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20, followed Jesus’ model. Dr. Luke tells us, “After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch” (Acts 14:21). Further, in the book of Acts, Luke writes again, “And he settled there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them” (Acts 18:11).
2. The Intentional Factor:
Spiritual maturity is an intentional process – it will not happen by chance.
The author of the letter to the Hebrew puts the dot on the “i” when it comes to responsibility to grow spiritually. If the Jerusalem church was formed in the year 32 or 33 AD and if the Hebrew epistle was written on 64 AD, we can conclude that after approximately 30 years those brothers did not mature spiritually. The author of Hebrews writes: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food” (Hebrews 5:12).
The author continues: “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. And this we will do, if God permits” (Hebrew 6:1-3). Let me ask you this: Who is responsible for our spiritual growth? We are. (See 1 Peter 2:1-3). Ultimately the intention and the decision must be ours. (See Hebrews 6:1-3). As an English proverb says: “Where there's a will, there's a way.” The Word tells us clearly: “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13).
3. The EFFORT Factor:
The spiritual formation requires effort – it will not happen if we sit with our hands crossed. However, the effort is not of the flesh but being empowered by the Spirit.
Peter writes, “For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust” (2 Peter 1:4). Then he continues: “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love” (2 Peter 1:5-7). Who is called to apply all diligence? You and I, right?
4. The AGONY Factor:
The spiritual formation requires agony – it will not happen without agonizing for all that God has in store for us.
Agony comes from Latin agonia, from Greek agōnia – struggle, anguish. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary agony means intense pain of mind or body (http://www.merriam-webster.com, accessed on October 31, 2012). Sometimes it requires that others may struggle for us, or that we may struggle for others so that the image of Christ may take place in them. Paul struggled for the spiritual condition of Galatians. He writes: “My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you” (Galatians 4:19). John Knox, agonized for salvation of Scotland. He prayed, “Give me Scotland or die!” John Knox was imprisoned and made to serve as a galley slave for opposing Roman Catholicism. He boldly and regularly confronted Mary the Queen of Scotland and transformed Roman Catholic Scotland into a thoroughly Reformed nation. Queen Mary, trembling and in tears, declared: “I am more afraid of the prayers of John Knox than of an army of ten thousand.” The beauty of God's work is that his prayer was heard during his lifetime.
In the Old Testament we have a powerful illustration that can be applied in this as well. Rachel, one of Jacob's wives, who had no children, at some point said to Jacob “Give me children, or else I die” (Genesis 30:1 b).
Is the Church today still passionate for spiritual growth and maturity? Are the spiritual workers agonizing to see believers attain “the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13b)? I would like to think so!
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With LOVE in HIS Service,
MODULE IV: The FLESH –
The MAJOR OBSTACLE
towards Spiritual Maturity
“Come on in! Enroll! Partake in this amazing and life-transforming discipleship platform!”
(Oct. 30 – Nov. 3: ORIENTATION and WEEK 1 of STUDY)
You are destined to reflect the image of Christ – His nature and His character. God’s nature is agape love (1 John 4:8). God’s character is perfect holiness (1 Pet. 1:14-15). This, seemingly unreachable state, is not achievable by human effort, but attainable by the very grace of God by which we have been saved. The major obstacle that prevents attaining the fullness of Christ is our own flesh. As a born again believer we sincerely love Christ’s commandments but our flesh opposes them. According to Gal. 5:16-17, there is a civil war going on inside of us. We have to know the biblical details about the flesh and the civil war going on inside of us. That is why I am encouraging you to enroll into Advanced Discipleship Training (ADT). For more info please visit http://www.urfm.org/discipleship.html. You will be guided step-by-step and helped to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18). What are you waiting for? Come and join the ADT Family, you will not regret it!
The FLESH – The MAJOR OBSTACLE towards Spiritual Maturity
Module IV explores the area of spiritual ‘battle’ between the flesh and the Spirit. Paul writes so directly, “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please” (Galatians 5:17). The tragedy is that many believers live defeated lives because they have not been properly discipled. Many never learned about the flesh and the spiritual opposition between the flesh and the Spirit. Because they have not appropriated the cross in their own lives (see Gal. 2:20), many believers continue to live carnal lives as those from Corinth (1 Cori. 3:1-3). As a result, they continue to walk as infants in the state of spiritual immaturity (Heb. 5:12-14).
The main purpose and the highest objective of URFM through the Advanced Discipleship Training (ADT) is to provide the environment, the tools, and the teaching so that the Christian discipleship and spiritual growth and maturity process could take place in the lives of interested individuals.
Let me ask you a few questions: Do you feel that you have not grown spiritually for the last several years? Are you ready to pay the price and let the Holy Spirit make you and mold you more and more into the likeness of Christ? Do you want to follow in the footsteps of those who followed Jesus? Do you really desire to become all that God intends for you? Are you passionate to let Christ make a difference in you and around you? If your answer is “Yes!” to one or more of these questions, you are the perfect candidate for the ADT offered by URFM.
Come on in! Enroll! Partake in this amazing and life-transforming discipleship platform. Welcome aboard! I am looking forward to ministering to you! God bless your decision!
With LOVE in HIS Service,
Spiritual Mentor / Life Coach
Think beyond ‘just evangelism’ and ‘just missions’; think radical discipleship and spiritual transformation; think spiritual growth and maturity; think multiplication and spiritual reproduction.
Hudson Taylor, (21 May 1832 – 3 June 1905), the famous missionary to China, once said, “The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed.” Then, how are we supposed to respond to the Great Commission today?
My grand conclusion is this: It is all about Jesus and Jesus is all about discipleship.
Let’s pray that Christians all over the world would get out of their comfort zones, and – be discipled (thus becoming equipped for the task) to make disciples. I am fascinated by Paul’s boldness and faithfulness to transfer his godly legacy to his ‘son in faith’ - Timothy before his martyrdom, “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). Should we do less than that? You be the judge.
With love in Christ,
Spiritual Mentor / Life Coach
There is a fresh interest in the church today for Christian Discipleship. Many churches and denominations started to realize that there is a need for spiritual formation; therefore some churches increase their budgets and staff for this purpose. Since I love discipleship, this is music to my ears and it makes my heart beat faster.
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