Preparation for Discipleship
(Mark 3, Acts 1, Romans 12, Matthew 10)
Introduction: In the last two lessons we learned that everyone is eligible to be a disciple. What do we need to learn next to prepare to be disciples? To prepare to lead? Let's dive into the Bible and find out!
- The Chosen Twelve
- Read Mark 3:13-15. Can you imagine the scene in your mind? Put it in today's terms. ("The Boss" calls your name and you come out of the crowd and walk into His office. He explains that He wants to promote you. This is exactly what you think you want, so you agree to be an apostle.)
- What is the job description for being an apostle? (1. Be with Jesus. 2. Be available to preach. 3. Have authority to drive out demons.)
- Let's focus on this last aspect of the job for a minute. Do you have to be authorized to do this kind of work? (It is hard to read the text any other way.)
- What lesson do we learn for today from this account of choosing the twelve disciples? (Many were following Jesus, but He chose only a few to be in positions of authority.)
- Choosing You
- It was pretty "black and white" how the twelve were chosen. How are we chosen today by Jesus?
- A good place to start looking is Acts 1:21-26. Jesus has returned to heaven, and the early church is in the process of replacing Judas. Let's read this account. What are the essential elements of the choice? (The church uses its wisdom. It looks for someone with the necessary experience. It chooses two men. It prays for divine guidance and casts lots - so that God will have the final say.)
- Should you be able to choose yourself for leadership? I recall one man who studied so that he could be the "Head Elder." He was ready and waiting to be chosen by the church. When he was not, he dropped out of church. Clearly, the church made the right choice. We can (and should) all choose to be disciples of Jesus. But, leadership positions should not be "self-chosen.")
- Read Romans 12:3-5. What does this teach us about our role in the church? (We all have something to do. But, we do not all have the same function. That is, we do not all have the same job.)
- Do we have any role in choosing our function? (We have a role in being realistic about our job. When the Bible says "think of yourself with sober judgment," it means be realistic about what you are best fitted to do.)
- Aside from us being realistic, how are these functions determined? (Read Romans 12:6-8. The "grace given us" seems to refer to the blessings of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. Consider what gifts God has given to you. Where do you excel in His work? That is your place in the church.)
- Considering what we have studied so far, what is the first step in preparation for discipleship? (Figuring out your role in the work. Your role may change over time, but the essentials are the same: 1) Look for God's leading. This can come through the gifts God has given you and the leadership opportunities presented by the church. 2) Be realistic about your gifts and talents.)
- The Job
- Read Matthew 10:1, 5-6. Are these instructions for us? (Yes and no. We know the limitation on mission is not an instruction for us because last week we learned that Peter and Cornelius were clearly led by God to come together so that gentiles would receive the gospel message. However, the underlying principle is that we should be focused in our mission.)
- What lesson should we learn from Jesus calling His disciples "to Him?" (Preparation for being a disciple requires that we draw close to Jesus. We do this by Bible study and prayer.)
- What lesson is there in being given specific authority to "drive out evil spirits and heal every disease and sickness?"
- Adam Clarke's commentary says this: "He whose ministry is not accompanied with healing to diseased souls, was never called of God." Do you agree? (I'm not sure whether Clarke means exorcisms or conversions. If a minister never converts anyone, that would be a problem. Going down the "authority list" in verse one, most ministers I know do not perform instantaneous, miraculous healing.)
- Read Ephesians 4:11-12. In this list "apostles" (which are the twelve in Matthew 10:1) are different than "evangelists" and "pastors." What does this say about pastors having the same authority as apostles? What does it say about the necessity of them exorcizing and healing?
- Read Matthew 10:7-8. Which of these instructions do you think applies to our preparation for discipleship? (The message should be the same. If we are authorized to do the rest, we should.)
- What does it mean "freely you have received, freely give." (If God has given you a gift. If He has authorized you with certain divine power, then use it freely to help others.)
- Read Matthew 10:9-10. What does this mean? Is poverty part of the preparation for discipleship? (Just the opposite. Notice that they are leaving their money, suitcase, extra suits, shoes and ties at home.)
- How does that make any sense? (Jesus says that those who benefit from hearing the gospel should provide those things for you!)
- What happened to "freely you received, freely give?"
- For at least the first five years of these lessons, I bankrolled all of the expenses myself. All of the translators volunteer their time and expenses. About five years ago my son started running Google ads on the web site with our lessons so that we could recoup our costs. Should I be getting the money from you instead of Google advertisers? (Not everyone followed this rule. Paul supported himself. Acts 20:34.)
- Read Matthew 10:11-13. Let's start with verse 11. What lesson for discipleship do you learn in this verse? (Your base for mission depends in part on your work ("search"), the willingness of a local to help ("some worthy person"), and a continued partnership between the two of you ("stay at his house until you leave"). I would not leave the guidance of the Holy Spirit out of this, because Jesus, another of the Godhead, is the one giving the instructions.)
- What lesson do you find in verse 12? (Be respectful and kind to the local family who is working with you.)
- What lesson do you find in verses 13? (If they are helpful, bless them.)
- Read Matthew 10:14-16. What should you do if people do not listen to you? (Walk away.)
- Should this instruction about walking away guide our evangelistic work today? How about our work for former church members?
- If former members say "no," should we never try again?
- Or, is this just an instruction for the twelve disciples who have a huge task and limited time?
- Why do you think Matthew 10:15 is true? Just refusing to listen is worse than being a rapist( Genesis 19:4-5)? How can that be? (Read Matthew 11:23-24. Barnes' Notes suggests this has to do with the "light" available to you. Apparently Lot, God's follower in Sodom, was not a very good evangelist. The Sodomites did not have a very good vision of God. On the other hand, the people being sent out in Matthew 10 are the twelve disciples! Who could better explain the gospel than one of them? (Actually, as we studied at the beginning of this series, the disciples understanding of their mission at this point was not very good. Apparently, it was much better than Lot's work!)
- When Jesus says "be shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves" what lesson does He want His disciples to learn? (Use your common sense! Use your brains! Some Christians complain about "seeker" services, about using commercial techniques to market the church and make it attractive to the world. Their view is that the dusty, boring service they have is more spiritual -- God will bring the right people in (never mind that few, if any, have come in during the last few years). Our Lord says when it comes to evangelizing the world, be as "shrewd snakes.")
- Friend, will you take the steps to find your role as an effective disciple?
- Next week: Experiencing Discipleship.