What’s Discipleship Mean?

A few weeks back, I read a book titled Pagan Christianity where the authors explained where certain church traditions came from. The part that stayed with me was the explanation of how the New Testament letters are ordered. John, Paul, and Peter – who wrote multiple letters – placed longest to shortest instead of a chronological order. The authors challenged the readers to study Acts and the letters in the same order as it happened and reading the letters straight through like you would a letter. I went online to find a reading plan to fit the bill so I could do just that. Found this plan on Bible Study Tools. I have to admit, the scriptures came alive as I watched Christianity spread.

Then I thought, “why not do the same with the Gospels?” It could be the closest way to learn from Jesus like the Twelve Disciples did. I was already studying from Luke since it is arguably the most comprehensive of the Gospels. Thinking for a moment, I asked myself what could be more comprehensive than all of them in order of events. I would just be an unnamed disciple learning from Jesus. I had written posts about applying scripture to daily life, instead of just enjoying the warm and fuzzy parts. Then I came across this post on Cold Case Christianity; I will highlight a few parts in it:

“What precisely is discipleship and why is it so important? Is it simply a matter of making converts? No, it’s much more. The process of making disciples is often misunderstood and neglected in the Church today, and as a result, we are in danger of losing our identity as Christians. Christian discipleship is critical to Christian survival.

Even secular dictionaries recognize discipleship as something more than simply creating “members” or “converts”. Dictionary.com describes a disciple as “a person who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another.” Webster’s online dictionary defines a disciple as “one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another.” At least one aspect of discipleship involves learning the doctrines of a particular system or teacher. This intellectual aspect of being a disciple is affirmed in the Bible. The Greek word used for “disciple” in the New Testament is “mathētḗs” and its root, “math-“, means the “mental effort needed to think something through“. Disciples are “learners”, “scholars” and followers of Christ who “learn the doctrines of Scripture and the lifestyle they require”. There is an important connection between doctrine and behavior. It’s not enough to simply follow Jesus’ moral teaching related to behavior, true disciples must understand the doctrines of Christianity. What does our worldview teach, theologically or philosophically? How are we to make a defense (1 Peter 3:15), hold fast the faithful word which is in accordance with this teaching (Titus 1:9), recognize a heresy when we see one (Titus 3:10), and guard the treasure which has been entrusted to us (2 Timothy 1:14)? Becoming a disciple means becoming a learner.”

“Many young Christians walk away from the Church in their college years after sitting in University classes taught by outspoken atheists. Who, once again, leaves the Church at the highest rate? Undiscipled young Christians. Discipleship produces Christ-followers who look more and more like Jesus. That’s a good, important goal. But beyond this, discipleship, protects believers from error and heresy. When we know the truth well enough to defend it in our own mind, we’ll actually defend it in our own mind when presented with a lie. True discipleship celebrates the role of the mind in the Christian life and prepares Christian disciples to live the Christian life, even as they are defending the Christian truth. That’s why Christian discipleship is critical to Christian survival.”

I feel drawn to the seekers and those with spiritual apathy, and want to be a good example to them. To do that, I have to learn and the best way to do that is from the beginning, reading and studying in context. I will be mining the Gospels for all they are worth with the W.H.A.T method with an additional question from the book Think Christianly; “How did Jesus do what he did?” Along with the tool of Scripture Engagement from Bible Gateway. Then I can pass it on as I live it.

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