Discipleship that Rests on the Gospel
At our conference in September, we had multiple workshops. After being well-fed by Nancy’s morning message, we broke up to get practical and specific. Those who remained in the auditorium joined me to talk about discipleship. Whenever I teach about discipleship, I remember the women who have spent time with me to help me grow spiritually. They have gotten up early to talk, hunted me down when I was avoidant, flown across the world to see me. They have been physicians giving me the truth like a needed injection. Sometimes it hurts, but it’s always to bring healing or keep me alive. They have been teachers, comforters, and coaches. Their influence is probably more than I even realize, though it seems gigantic. Discipleship occurs in many forms, but this workshop focused on discipleship in small groups and even one-on-one. This form of discipleship has been the most influential and a great joy in my life.
As we began our discussion, we laid a foundation for why were we talking about how discipleship rests on the gospel, and why we were even talking about discipleship in the first place.
We know that this discipleship journey begins with eternal life at the moment of coming into relationship with God through Jesus Christ. It begins when we repent and believe the gospel. This is the good news that our just, loving God saw us-- corrupt, sinful, broken, yet valuable people. He acted and has graciously loved us. In His plan, Jesus, who is God and man, came to live the life we could never live and die the death we deserve, perfectly showing what humanity was meant to do. When He died, He paid the penalty ending the alienation caused by our sin. He rose again justifying us and adopting us into God’s family. He changed us from the inside out, making us new, giving us a new heart and the Spirit of God Himself to dwell inside of us.
This is the gospel, and it changes everything. That’s why growth rests on the gospel.
We are responsible to be women who repent, believe, and live, by the power of the Spirit, this changed life, transformed by what God has done in and for us. We have that role in our own discipleship, but we also have a role in the discipleship of others. Christ clearly taught us that disciples make disciples. You cannot be a disciple and not be a disciple-maker. We were saved into a relationship with the living God, and also into a mission. Together we walked through Matthew 28:18-20 to see the details of the commission Jesus has left us.
We came to the conclusion that we are called to tell and to teach. When we looked at some of Paul’s writings, we realized that this teaching doesn’t mean we stop talking about the gospel, but rather all growth and obedience rests on the gospel. Paul never told people to “work harder” or “obey more.” He always told them the truth of the gospel and how they went from old to new, from death to life, from an old heart to a new heart, and from without the Spirit to having the Spirit of God! Then he told them that from this changed life, they must live differently. The gospel had produced a new life, so they were then called to live it out. The imperatives rest on the indicatives, we said. Growth rests on the gospel.
Finally we broke out the whiteboard markers and brainstormed what this looks like as we minister to others. (I love whiteboard brainstorming!) What does the gospel teach us, and how does it affect our discipleship? Here’s a few of the things we came up with:
- If we believe that God truly loves us, we don’t have to obsess about if we are loved. We can restrain our envy, self-pity and anger.
- If we believe that God fully accepts us, we don’t have to believe the lies that throw us into the pursuit of being useful enough, lovely enough, smart enough, scrappy enough or whatever it may be.
- If we believe that God has freed us from the power of sin, we have hope to turn from sin. We are not stuck in enslavement to the addicting gossip, spiral of lies, ladder of pride, or dungeon of self-loathing.
- If we believe we still need grace, we do not strive to hide our sin and work for the “good girl” status in our social circles and on social media.
We concluded by talking about how this applies to our friendships and our sexuality specifically. We recognized that there were promises of the Father, the sacrifice of the Son, and power from the Spirit that would help us deal with each topic we run into in our walk as disciples. The way to help others in their discipleship is to point them back to these same truths of the gospel. That’s where growth lies—on remembering the gospel.
Want to listen to the full audio of this workshop? The workshop audio is available on the Verity Conference 2015 event page.