What is a Disciple?
I am just beginning a new study myself called Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples by Francis Chan and Mark Beuving. It is study material to teach yourself how to be a true disciple of Christ and then take that information and use it to teach others to become disciples so they can teach others, and so on, hence the name “Multiply”. I thought it would be helpful and interesting to have others along for this journey, so I am sharing it online. I pray that we will all learn together and be encouraged by each other.
We are getting started this week into our study: Multiply. We are going to start with Part 1: Living as a Disciple Maker: Session 1: What is a Disciple? Remember, all material for this study can be found at https://www.multiplymovement.com/, whether you want to read along or be read to. Since I am more or less leading the study, I will be mostly summarizing the chapters as we go along and providing the follow-up questions for discussion. If you are interested in more information, please, by all means, read the study with me. From what I’ve read so far, it is promising to be a good one.
The first chapter of Multiply starts at the beginning: “What IS a Disciple?” As you can guess, knowing what a disciple is is an important step in becoming one and leading others to become one. Imagine being one of the first disciples of Jesus when He said “Follow me”. Do you think they had any idea about what they were getting themselves into? Do any of us REALLY know what we are getting ourselves into when we make the commitment to be a disciple?
So what is a disciple anyway? In Multiply, it is defined as a student or apprentice. “Basically, a disciple is a follower, but only if we take the term ‘follower’ literally. Becoming a disciple of Jesus is as simple as obeying His call to follow” (16). We are called to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, to follow His example exactly, to become like the Rabbi. “It’s impossible to be a disciple or a follower of someone and not end up like that person. Jesus said, ‘A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher’ (Luke 6:40). That’s the whole point of being a disciple of Jesus: we imitate Him, carry on His ministry, and become like Him in the process” (16).
Discussion question #1:
“Up to this point in your life, would you call yourself a follower of Jesus Christ? Why do you say that? Do you see evidence of your faith as described in Luke 6:40?
How Do I Become a Disciple?
Now that we know what a disciple is, how do we become one? The first message that Jesus proclaimed was found in Matthew 4:17, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. What does that mean? In Multiply, the authors offer this analogy: If someone told you that a king was coming to establish a kingdom in your neighborhood, wouldn’t you do all you can to make sure you were in good standing with the king so that you did not have to fight this king? Jesus tells us that the way we prepare for the coming of our King is that we repent.
How do we repent? “The word ‘repent’ means ‘to turn’. It has the idea of changing directions and heading the opposite way. It involves action” (18). We need to completely change our way of thinking. Romans 3:23 tells us why we all need to repent: “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We all have sinned. We all deserve death (Rom. 6:23). And now for one of my favorite phrases in the Bible, “But God…”. “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). The way we avoid the death penalty is belief in Christ, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9). Even if we repent and believe we are not “earning” our salvation. “Part of our repentance is to turn from believing that there’s anything we can do to save ourselves—for everything was accomplished by Jesus Christ” (19).
Discussion Question #2:
Read Ephesians 2 carefully and take some time to consider the truths it presents. Do you trust in the death of Christ for your salvation? Do you ever struggle with believing you need to do something to save yourself?
The Lord of Grace
We need need to understand that our salvation has nothing to do with how “good” we are.“Salvation is all about the grace of God. There is absolutely nothing that you can do to save yourself or earn God’s favor… it is the gift of God” (20). All salvation requires of us is that we have faith in Christ, we have to believe that He is Who He says He is. Part of this means believing that He is Lord. Do you really believe that He is your Lord, that He owns you and you actually belong to Him? If Jesus Christ is your Lord, than your life belongs to Him. He is the One that gets to plan what you do for the rest of your life.
Discussion Question #3:
Evaluate your approach to following Jesus. Would you say that you view Jesus as your Lord, Master, and Owner? Why or why not?
It All Comes Down to Love
Obeying and following Christ is essentially about loving and enjoying God. How do we love God? Jesus says “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). 1 John 3:16 tells us, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers”. We have to understand that love for God and obedience for Christ cannot be separated. You cannot have one without the other.
Discussion Question #4:
As you look at your life, how would you say that your love for God is shown in your actions? (If you’re having trouble coming up with an answer, take some time to think through some changes you may need to make in your lifestyle.)
Count the Cost
Before you make the commitment to become a disciple of Christ, you need to know how much it costs. Please read Luke 14:25-33, slowly and carefully. Imagine that Jesus is speaking directly to you. After you have read, you can answer the remaining discussion questions.
Discussion Question #5:
If you choose to obey Jesus’s call to follow, what might it cost you? (Avoid being vague. If following Jesus would cost you specific possessions, comforts, or relationships, list them.)
Discussion Question #6:
What might hold you back from following Jesus at this point? Are you willing to let go of these things if necessary?
Discussion Question #7:
Before you end this session, spend some time in prayer. Ask God to work in your heart and prepare you for what is ahead. You don’t need to have all the answers or know specifically how God will use you. He simply calls you to follow wherever He might lead. As you pray, be honest about your doubts, hesitations, and fears. Ask Him to give you the strength to proceed and follow Him no matter what the cost. In other words, place your faith in Him.
This is a great start to our study. I hope you will continue to follow along in this study and are as excited as I am to press on. Feel free to post your answers to the discussion questions or any other thoughts you may have. We are here for each other.