Intentional Discipleship for Normal People
The Process of Discipleship
Similar to the pattern of discipleship, Todd takes aim at identifying the process Paul encourages, one rooted in the message and model of Jesus himself. Grow in your knowledge of discipleship tactics in this sixth of eight messages from 2 Timothy 2:1-2.
Before we dive into the sixth week of our series on discipleship, just let me give you a brief thank you for last week. We did one thing here last week and, no, it wasn't VBS. A lot of you are thinking, "Yes, we did. That was all we did last week." No, actually last week we were involved in doing one thing, making disciples of all nations. Many ethnicities were here and every night we were sowing the seed of the Gospel and then helping children and adults obey that Gospel. So there was evangelism occurring and there was discipleship occurring, that's really one thing we do, it's called making disciples. So last week you thought it was VBS, it was actually making disciples and I want to thank so many of you for the ways you contributed. It was great to see so many green shirts here every night, as well as all the children, and so many of our youth who were wearing green shirts and helping, kind of giving back to what they had done in the years past.
So God is just so faithful and good to this church and I just want to thank him and I want to thank you for your generosity as well. As a result of your commitment, the children of VBS last week I think through their families, of course, but we'll just credit the children with this at this point, okay? But over $6,000 came in through our VBS offering just through the kids. We had some of you adults who offered to match certain gifts and so our goal was $10,000 to help one of our partners in Haiti, Courtney Johnson, purchase a boat by which she could access hard to reach spots on the island. It was an audacious goal but we set it at the beginning of the week when Courtney was here. She talked to us on Sunday and Becky led the team and the workers were great in just trying to keep that vision before us. Well, by the end of the week, here's the picture that was taken outside the building with most of the VBS kids and adults, and the check they're holding was going to go to Courtney and was for $10,018.44. That's a lot of money for a bunch of kids to raise, isn't it? Amen. Praise the Lord.
So we had Courtney on the phone last night and she began to weep and cry as we told her the great news and Becky was so right when she told the crowd that was gathered that as we think about delivering this money to Courtney for that boat, every time she does access a hard to reach spot on that island, First Family had a part in that. And we're not looking for credit and we don't need that to be known but it's good to know that you have a part in the Gospel getting to those who have never heard. Amen? So I want to thank you for your help and just your generosity as we continue to make God's passion our mission, alright? Thank you very much for that.
Well, I think it's a good segue into this series because last week was just a very intensive week of discipleship. It's the one thing we do and there are two parts to it: sowing the seed and then helping those who have responded to the seed to obey. That went on last week and we're looking at how that happens in a church. What is discipleship like for normal people? How does it look? What do we do? What's involved in that? And we've been using 2 Timothy 2:1-2 as our root verses. Here are those verses for us. I won't show you all that we've talked about in the past, I'll let you go back to our website or to our app and you can hear the messages there that kind of break these two verses, they break them apart almost phrase by phrase, in some cases word by word. Today we're going to look just at this phrase "entrust to faithful men," and what does it mean, okay? Because we've looked at the word "entrust," we've kind of spent a whole week just at that word. We spent a whole week on the word "faithful." But today we're going to kind of back up a little bit and say, "Okay, what is the point of this core phrase in this sentence?" And that's what this phrase is, by the way. This is the only imperative in the verse. The word "entrust" is the only imperative verb and so this really forms the real essence of Paul's command to Timothy.
So let's read the entire set of verses together out loud and then we'll just focus on understanding what did he mean when he said to entrust to faithful men? How is that actually done? Okay, together, read with me, church, would you?
1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
So this phrase that Paul uses to command Timothy under the Holy Spirit's inspiration to entrust what he's been given to faithful men, how is that done? Is there a place that we can look to say, "Oh well, there's the process illustrated or defined or modeled"? Well, there is, it's the life of Christ and this morning I want to show you through the book of Mark, you'll be surprised how quickly I'll take you through the whole book. I want you to see in the book of Mark how Jesus actually models this phrase. He takes what was given to him by the Father and he entrusts it to the faithful men that he selected with this confidence, that they would then pass it on to others.
So let's start that journey, can we? Mark 1:14 is where we're going to begin. I've chosen the Gospel of Mark because it's the shortest and most succinct of the Gospels and it gives us a good overview of the life of Christ, how he entrusted what the Father gave him unto 12 men. So we're going to kind of make our way through this book basically in four main sections to show you what I consider to be the four stages of discipleship, alright? You might want to get a snapshot of this chart. It will form the basis for what we're going to talk about today and as I said in my prayer, I think you'll feel two things today: you will feel at some point like, "Wow, that's obvious." It's just in the word. It's kind of laid out in Scripture. Mark does it most succinctly and probably in the way that's most obvious. At the same time, you're going to feel like, "Wow, this is overwhelming." Okay? So I want you to be willing to embrace both ends of that emotional spectrum today because the Holy Spirit will use both to move us towards action, alright? Four stages of discipleship that are modeled by Christ that I think show us the process by which this still happens today.
It begins in Mark 1:14. Open your Bibles there and make sure you're kind of following with me. I'll take you through several chapters and several verses just in a row and you'll just kind of need to follow along and you'll see these stages unfold, okay? By the way, Tanner will make this chart available on some kind of platform afterwards if you want to see more of it and print it or something if you can, if your picture on your phone is not good enough. He'll make it available to you.
Here's Mark 1:14,"Now after John was arrested," so this is months probably into his ministry, to some degree, "Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.'" So here we see Jesus now announcing his ministry and on the heels of announcing his ministry of preaching the kingdom of God which consists of these two key words, repent and believe, he calls along his side other folks to, in essence, watch what he's doing.
You'll see this in verse 16, 17, 18 and 19 of chapter 1. Look with me. He is passing alongside the Sea of Galilee and he sees Simon and Andrew and so he says to them in verse 17, "Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men." They left their nets and then going a little further, verse 19 says, he sees James the son of Zebedee, John his brother, also known as the Sons of Thunder. He says to them likewise, "Follow me," and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.
Now when we read that in our culture, we think that's awfully strange. Who can walk up to somebody and say, "Follow me," a complete stranger, and they just leave their jobs and do that. We need to read this within the culture and history of the Jewish nation. It wasn't strange for young men to be called out by a rabbi to follow them. In fact, in some ways it was expected and so when Jesus would walk along the sea and see men who were making their living and fishing or perhaps we'll see later, Levi and his profession, he was calling them to a different profession and Jewish men weren't surprised at this. It was kind of a known fact that you would attach yourself to a rabbi in the area and learn from him. Remember how Nicodemus called Jesus a rabbi? So Jesus Christ was doing what teachers and rabbis do. He was the Son of God, of course, Immanuel, God with us, so it was different but they weren't all aware of that at the time. So he's calling for people to follow him. That's what rabbis did so it wasn't strange in their culture as you may read it today, which is why when they heard that, they said, "That's the rabbi to which I will attach myself. I'll learn from him." That's what a disiciple is, it means "learner."
So they followed Jesus. This is stage 1 in which these beginning followers got high direction from the leader, that's what L stands for. In stage 1, the leader's habit, activity is high direction and low explanation. The disciple, that's what D stands for in this stage, has high confidence but really low competence. So if you want to try to put yourself in this position, think about when you sign on for a brand new job. You're like gung-ho but you're not sure exactly what you'll be doing, you don't even know maybe where your cubicle is, you're not sure how it's going to work but you have a lot of confidence but your skills may be a little low. So you have to take a lot of instruction and sometimes there's not a lot of explanation, it's just, "I need you to do this and this," and so you just kind of obey orders for a while. This is what we know in our families to be true when your kids are first born, you give them high direction and low, what? Explanation. You gradually teach them things but at first they can't handle all and they don't need to know all the whys yet, but they sure need to obey all the whats at times, right? So you give them a lot of direction. This is really what's going on in stage 1.
So just understand as Jesus begins his ministry, he does call to himself a number of people, not just 12, by the way, he actually calls a number of people at the beginning. He selects 12 later but initially there are a number of folks and they're just watching him. Notice how this is seen throughout these first couple of chapters. I'll run you through a few verses, okay? Are you following?
Look at 1:25, "But Jesus rebuked him, saying," and here we see it was Jesus who did the work. I just want to show you phrases that lean towards Christ being the one who's really doing the bulk of all the work here. Look at 1:31, "he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up." Look at 1:34, "he healed many who were sick." Look at 1:41, "Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him." In chapter 2 we see the disciples there again watching. He calls Matthew or Levi, and so as these first couple of chapters, you see Jesus is really doing everything. They're watching. They're following. They're learning by his model.
I believe this first stage took about 8 to 12 months. In fact, just to show you how quickly Mark covers things, Mark 1:14 when you read that verse, it's actually the first four to five chapters of the Gospel of John. So John takes four to five chapters to cover what Mark covers in 13 verses. So when you get to about the middle of chapter 3 or so, it's been about 8 to 12 months and the disciples have mainly just watched what Jesus was doing. They've answered the call, "We'll follow. We want to learn from you. Let's watch what you're doing." But beginning in 3, I would say about 9, something changes. Look at chapter 3, verse 9, "And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd." Now he's beginning to engage them in helping him do some things. This is a logistical task, that's all it is, but he's bringing them more into the loop now. Notice how this verse follows verse 8 which says, "When the great crowd heard all that he was doing," do you see that?
So the emphasis is to focus on Christ. He's doing, they're watching, but now he's going to bring them into a new stage and I believe stage 2 begins in Mark 3:13 when out of the large group that was following him, he actually selects 12. Now this is recorded for us in Luke 6 as well and I would recommend that as you think about this process of discipleship and these stages, if you don't have a book called "The Harmony of the Gospels," I would encourage you to pick that up. It will kind of help identify some time lines here of when these stages kind of started and stopped. We can't be scientifically definitive and accurate every single moment, we can get some general pictures, though, and at this point there are a number of people following him but now he knows he has to move to a different stage in which he gives a select few greater access into his life.
So he prays all night and the next day he selects 12. This is what happens in Mark 3:13, "he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him." Now notice why he's calling them into a closer relationship. Verse 14, "he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him." That's present tense. Church, don't miss this. He's calling them to a deeper relationship. He's saying, "I want to give you greater accessibility to what I'm doing, not just what I'm doing but who I am. I'm going to give you kind of a backstage access pass. You're going to get to see things that are both the inside and outside, good and bad, up and down." That's the present tense but watch this, "and that he might send them out to preach." Suddenly we now get a sense of what the vision is of Christ with these 12. Out of a large group he brings 12 to the inner circle, so to speak, or a closer circle I should say, knowing that he would send them out to preach which is what he started doing in 1:14.
So in stage 2 what we have here is high accessibility, much moreso than stage 1; we have, again, a high example, there's still a lot of doing by Jesus; the confidence, however, begins to go down. In the first stage they're excited to be asked to join. They're pumped, like, "Yeah! I want to be discipled by you." But as they get an inside look, as they get closer access, they begin to realize, "Wow, it's not always a bed of roses. This is a tough assignment." So what typically happens to disciples in stage 2 is they have a dip in their confidence.
Let me show you what I'm talking about here in the Scriptures. As he brings the 12 closer, as they get kind of a backstage pass, as they get closer accessibility, they also experience some difficult things. First of all, they have to realize that they're going to be hearing things that are hard to understand. Notice in chapter 4, verse 33, here is says, "With many such parables he spoke the word to them," speaking of the crowds. In fact, "He did not speak to them without a parable," but notice this last phrase, Mark 4:34, "but privately to his own disciples," the ones I think he called out in chapter 3, verse 13, those 12, "he explained everything." Suddenly explanation gets a little deeper. There's a smaller group. They have closer proximity so they get more explanation and why do they get more explanation? Because they're in a greater degree of difficulty of discipleship.
Notice what follows next. Not only are they hearing things that need processing, they're hearing difficult things, but they're experiencing difficult things. As these chapters unfold, this is where they go out in the boat, chapter 4, verse 35, and they're with Jesus. He goes to sleep and a big storm arises and they try to take care of it on their own but they can't and so they wake him up and they ask him, "Don't you care about us?" He calms the waves, calms the wind and then he says to them, "Why are you so afraid?" Which I think is a very crazy question. I would have said, "I've got one good reason: the storm. That's why I was afraid. I thought I was going to drown," right? But he shows them that in difficult circumstances, don't look at your surroundings, look at the Savior. He says, "You have no faith." They were filled with fear but yet they did say to themselves, look at the end of verse 41, "Who then is this, that even the wind and sea obey him?" So they're getting this closer look. They're getting greater accessibility to Jesus. How does he handle things? What makes this whole thing work?
It's not only a storm of nature that they are experiencing with him, one of those down time, they're also experiencing a storm of you might call it a storm of people. In this same time frame, Jesus goes back to Nazareth and it's there, it's one of the few towns in his ministry where he did not do many mighty works, the Bible says. Why? Because in his own town the people did not recognize who he was. They disregarded his claims to be the Messiah. They had no faith. So the disciples are seeing this. They're seeing, in essence, Jesus kind of being run out of his hometown.
So this is how this stage ends. Think about it, you're invited to join Jesus as a disciple, you're gung-ho, and then you realize, "Wow, following Jesus means storms and dislike, misinterpretation, rejection. I'm not sure I'm ready for that." That's why in this stage you typically have disciples with lower confidence and the tendency is to want to quit right here. They kind of say, "Well, I didn't sign up for this." Have you ever had that on a new job? You go in and you're like, "Man, this is great." Or maybe that new board you were going to serve on or maybe a new team you're going to play on, or just some new environment in general. "Yeah, let's do that!" So you sign up, then you get the details. You're like, "I didn't sign up for this, did I?" And suddenly you want to back out. This is very similar to that.
So just kind of be aware of this, that stage 1, a lot of direction, little explanation. If stage 2 comes, though, they begin to get greater accessibility, smaller circle, and you get more explanation because you need it because you realize things are a lot tougher than I realized, but Jesus is still doing, they're still helping, they're still watching, he's still modeling.
Well, on the heels of Nazareth and him being rejected there, I believe stage 3 begins. Here's why, because when confidence is low, this is a very counterintuitive type of thinking but watch what Jesus does, when the confidence is low, what does Jesus do? Jesus does not say, "Let's go back to class and have more discussion," Jesus says, "Do you know what? You need to go and do something and get some small victories. You need to actually do what you've been seeing me do," and to be frank with you, that's the way to build someone's confidence, is to let them experience ministry and sometimes just watching perhaps you and then saying maybe perhaps the discouragement from it or the hard time and say, "I want you to do this now, close to and let them get some short-term victories, so to speak. I think that's what he does here.
Look at chapter 6, verse 7, on the heels of stage 2, here's how he enters stage 3 with these 12, "he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two." It's almost as if his reasoning is this, "Well, if I'm rejected, why don't you go and do this? There is more than me here, right? You guys can do this." Now we know he also sent out 72 others but this one records here the 12. He sends them out and what do they do? Verse 12, "So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent." This is so obviously beautiful. What did Jesus do in Mark 1:14, say it to me church, he preached the kingdom of God that they should do, what? Repent. So what are they going to do now when they are sent out? "Well, let's just do what Jesus did." They go out preaching that people should repent. It was not like a rocket science, brain surgery kind of process that he thought of. It's so practically plain. He did some things and they watched. He did some things and they helped. Then he said, "Now I want you to do it and I will help you." Now remember, this isn't just in a 20 minute time frame, it's not just in a week, we're talking about months and at least three years for Jesus with these disciples. But I love the way Mark, there are specific kind of benchmarks, there are noticeable time frames in which things happen and you can kind of begin to see how Jesus entrusted to these 12 the mission that his Father had given him.
So he sends the 12 out. They do what Jesus did, they proclaim that people should repent, now notice how suddenly he begins helping them. Some key verses here. He sent them out in verse 30 of chapter 6, follow along with me, okay? They came back and they told him all that they had done and taught. Of course, they have some discussion there. They are going to a place to rest but as they are doing that, they are surrounded and crowded out by people who are hungry, people maybe they had preached to, they had taught, but there is this crowd now of people and so they say, "They are hungry. What shall we do?" And Jesus says to them, "You give them something to eat." In stage 1, he would have just given them something to eat, right? But now he says to them, odd phrase, "Hey, can you give them something to eat?" And if they are like me, and they probably were to some degree they are like you, here's what they would have thought, "I don't have enough food for like five people, much less a thousand more. Like, how do you want me to feed this many people?" But he's giving them an opportunity now to do what he's done. It's really just amazingly beautiful.
Of course, they say back to him, "We can't do that. We don't have that kind of money." He says, "How many loaves do you have?" And they end up having five, and then of course to fish, and they are thinking in other Gospels we know that they said, "What good does that do?" So he has the people sit down and then look what he does, he breaks the loaves and the fish, he blesses it and then look at verse 41, he gave them to the disciples to set before the people. In the most biblical sense, Jesus didn't feed the 5,000, the disciples did. Now Jesus empowered it and made it happen but if you're a part of a group of 100 or so or 10 and you're in a group of 5,000, you don't know who's over the hill maybe making this happen, you're just saying, "James has given me some food. James, you the man. Thanks, buddy!" I mean, you're hungry, you're starving, you're in the midst of this people who are without food and these 12 guys are giving it out, you're thinking, "Man, these disciples." I mean, they are the one you are hashtagging about, right? They're the ones you're kind of tagging on Facebook. They're the ones you're tweeting about. "John, he's cool. He has food. We'll travel." This is what's happening, Jesus is willing and able to let them not only do the ministry but in some ways receive the credit. This is just a beautiful picture of Christ entrusting to his men this ministry.
You see that again in chapter 8, look at verse 6. Here is another feeding of 4,000. He gives to the disciples and they set it before the people but it's not only in feeding the people, he also puts them out on their own in other difficult situations beyond just the one involving food. Look at chapter 6, verse 45, kind of back up for a moment. Here is another instance of Christ dealing with nature on the water, but notice there in verse 45 that he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side. How is that different than the scenario in chapter 4? In chapter 4, he went with them, didn't he? He got in the boat and they went together and he slept, but in this one what does he say? "Guys, get in the boat by yourself. I'll meet you over there." That's stage 3 thinking. Like, "You don't need me the whole time."
So they go and they meet some kind of storm, they are a little worried and they see him walking on water and they think it's a ghost and they yell for their life. So you can read other accounts of this in Luke as well and Matthew, but just be aware you see what Jesus is doing at this stage, he is actually getting them ready to do this on their own and he is in small incremental ways helping them practice. This is what stage 3 is, you do, I help, and it's here that the competencies of the disciple, they begin to grow. This is how their confidence is built back and here, of course, it's high discussion from the leader and lower direction.
In fact, let me show you an interesting verse here. Chapter 9 of Mark, verse 33. In the middle of stage 3, here's what is happening on a number of occasions. Verse 33 says, "they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, 'What were you discussing on the way?'" Now they were discussing who would be the greatest. Why do you think they were discussing that? Because they had just come off the two miracles at least when they were like the heroes. We've fed 5,000, we've fed 4,000. Man, they were hashtagging about us. We were the center of social media in Jerusalem. We were the bomb, right? Then he says, "So do you want to talk about who's the greatest?" And he had to kind of keep their pride in check. I think this does show us that one of the traps of stage 3 is we can begin to think it's really about us and it's not, but God is entrusting to us more responsibility but it's really not about us. So just be aware of that. Kind of a side note there, one of the traps to be aware of in stage 3.
I think as you begin to see this, though, you see that he ups the explanation, he ups the conversation. There is a ton of discussion happening here about what they are to do when they are doing the ministry. Further proof of this is in the Gospels of John and Luke. Listen very carefully. Stage 3 and those Gospels begins, I'm not sure it begins but it includes the high priestly prayer of Jesus in John 15, 16 and 17, in which Jesus lays out for his disciples the ministry of the Holy Spirit, that another Comforter is to come after I'm gone. You see, he's kind of prepping them for what's going to happen. He'll bring all things to remembrance. In other words, he will help you do what you need to do after I'm gone physically. It's also the part about not being troubled and trusting in God. It also includes, stage 3 does, his last supper which he washes their feet and he says to them, "As I have washed your feet, so you should wash the feet of others." There is a lot of conversation in stage 3.
So do you see what Jesus Christ is doing? Over a three-year period, he's inviting these people in as followers, he's selecting from that group ones to give greater accessibility to, he then is showing them and modeling to them what they should do, and then he's assuring them he will help them do it when he's gone. By the way, just to confirm this, it was in stage 3 that Jesus said to his disciples this, he said, "After I'm gone, you will do greater things than these." If you're a disciple and if you've been in stage 1 and stage 2, using the storm calmed, you've seen people healed, multitudes fed, what are you thinking about right now? "We're going to do greater things than these?" Do you see what Christ is doing? We won't go into the definition of that phrase right now, I just want you to know he is getting them ready to do what he's been doing. This is, in essence, discipleship occurring right in front of our eyes in a three-year period.
Well, I believe stage 3 ends when Jesus' life ends. He finishes out Passion Week. He goes to the cross. He's crucified. He dies and he is buried. What now? I believe the beginning of Mark 16 marks the beginning of stage 4. We're not going to read all about that except to say this, that as stage 4 kind of concludes at least in the recorded Scripture, it's in verse 19. He is raised back to life. He spends 40 days with the disciples and others. He gives his last words, his final commands. Look how verse 19 and 20 some this up for us in the book of Mark. Here is stage 4. This is the disciples doing and Christ watching. "So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere." Now why would they do that? Because that's exactly what Jesus did in the beginning of Mark 1:14. He came and preached the kingdom of God, people should repent and believe, and he did this in all of the villages. So with him gone, they just did what they watched their Master do. "We'll go around and we'll preach," and they began to carry forth the mission of God.
It says here, "the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs." And if you read what follows in the New Testament – hear this very carefully, church, there is a lot of information we just kind of processed and we are trying to process, listen very carefully – if you read the remainder of the New Testament from Acts forward, it is actually a fulfillment of this verse and others like it. They did preach everywhere. They went to Jerusalem and those 11 or 12 became 70, and then those 70 became 3,000 called Pentecost, and then the dispersion came in Acts 8, and those 3,000+ who were saved in those months, probably 10,000 or more, they scattered through the known world there and somehow in that, a church in Antioch sprouted up. The church at Antioch had heard about a guy named Paul so they asked Paul to join them after he got saved through a guy named Barnabas, and they discipled Paul and then the Holy Spirit led the church at Antioch to send out Paul and Barnabas who evangelized and discipled the whole known world. Do you realize that? City to city, Lystra, Derby, Iconium, planted churches, saw believers come to Christ, established elders. When those regions were reached, Paul set sail for Rome and eventually Spain. Whether he got there or not, we can debate until the Lord comes back, but Paul's eye was on what he knew Christ left him to do, make disciples of all nations, and you may wonder, did that ever happen?
Look at Romans 16:26, just as a teaser. Romans 16:26, would you, because I do believe in that first century the completion of the Great Commission is recorded for us. It doesn't mean that we don't participate in it still, but look what Paul says here in Romans 16:26. He begins in 25 by worshiping and proclaiming praise to the Lord, "Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God." You see, that was God's command even before Christ came. Christ came on mission from the Father. He established his mission to be continued through these 12 men. They did their jobs to get the Gospel to every nation. And the point of that was to bring about the obedience of faith, not just knowing about Jesus but obeying Jesus." And Paul here in a lot of ways asserts that the news about Jesus had reached every nation.
Have you ever thought about the amazing progress, it's not even a good word, the exponential progress that must represent, for a few believers over a period of 60 to 70 years to be able to say the Gospel has reached every nation. What is that called, Todd? That's just the process of discipleship. It's when churches realize this is what we do. This is the one thing we do. It may look like VBS, it may look like our small groups, it may look like church services, but the end of all of that is the making disciples of all nations. That has two parts to it: we sow the seed in evangelism and we mature people in obedience, yes, but it's one thing we do. It's one coin we are investing. It's one set of currency we have, right? Two sides of the coin, evangelism, discipleship, but it's one thing, making disciples, and when a church takes that seriously, radical change can happen. When a church takes seriously the command to obey Jesus and then to help someone else learn to obey Jesus because I believe discipleship necessarily and inherently includes multiplication. When a church takes that seriously, that's when it will begin to see tremendous even exponential progress with the Gospel. I think the New Testament is a bearing out of that, a picture of that.
I just overloaded you with information, I know. I just overwhelmed you and you're like, "Wow." So you are feeling the overwhelming feeling right now but do you know what you're also thinking? I guarantee it, you're thinking, "How did I miss that, though? It's pretty obvious." That's just the New Testament and sometimes we're afraid just to admit what we know the New Testament teaches, that Christ came on the mission of God and entrusted it eventually to 12 people and said, "Entrust this to other faithful men." That's really the New Testament. So, yeah, you're feeling two things, like that's obvious but, wow, that's overwhelming. I think the Holy Spirit can use both of those today to help us move forward as a church and continue to keep discipleship, making disciples as a strong aim, as a laserlike focus.
Just by way of definition, I just want to encourage you, this process, I kind of define it in this way: it's a timetable transfer of transformational truth. Notice what it's not. It's not a timetable transfer of information, okay? But it's truth that actually transforms the way you live, i.e. obedience, and it's also a transfer that is done in a timetable fashion. Now this may be three years for some of you, more than likely it's going to be longer at times and shorter at others. I don't think the Bible gives us a prescription of time. I think the best scenario is an 18 year one. Why do you say that, Todd? Because that's how you discipled your kids and I'm a firm believer that if and when we disciple our own children first, that's just a great start in the Great Commission. Let's not overlook our own roof in trying to go to the nations. I'm totally for the nations. I think everyone here would know that without any problem. I'm for God's heart for the globe, but sometimes we think about the globe and we miss the ones right under our roof that actually are the most available and accessible. I mean, they already have the inside scoop when you're home, right? They're living with you. So let's just start there for sure and that's about an 18 year cycle in which you do this very thing. You do and they watch. Everyone is like, "Yeah, we know about those years." And then at a certain point you do and they help and it's a little bit of fresh air, like, "Man, I'm so glad he's mowing the grass now. I'm so glad they are cleaning up the dishes. I'm so glad I've got a little help around here." Then at some point they actually do and you help and then, praise Jesus for these years, right? Then you get to the years where you're like they are doing it and you're just watching. Like, man, hallelujah, right? It's about an 18 year deal.
Now you see, when I just described that to you, none of you argued against that. You're like, "Yeah, Todd, that's just raising kids." That's also raising disciples and if a church – listen, with conviction listen – if the church would embrace spiritually this process as easily as we do naturally, we would make incredible progress with the Gospel but we seem to balk at the spiritual. "I don't know if I need to give someone greater access to my life, let them inside," and all these questions about, "Well, how much will it take? And I'm too busy." The truth is this works spiritually just like it works physically and Jesus modeled it for us.
So it's been very informative today, it's been quite in some ways analytical. I've walked you through the book of Mark, giving you the references. Here's a chart to kind of help you see this, but the goal is for you to know and be smarter. The goal is for you to understand so we can obey together and I just want to call you as a church to living a discipling lifestyle, being discipled and discipling someone because this is the one thing we do, church. And in all transparency and vulnerability, churches that don't do this, churches that don't make the mission of God their mission, churches that don't really embrace that Christ has called us to replicate and multiply, to invest into entrust to faithful men and women, like this is what he has called us to do, to extend it just beyond ourselves, if that's not really our aim to make sure that people from every nation, language, tribe and tongue get to hear the Gospel and follow Christ, accept his invitation and learn how to obey him, if that's not our aim, then let's stop being a church. Actually, let's stop pretending to be a church. Let's close the doors. You save your money. Please conserve your energy. Spend it somewhere else because we don't need to spend years pretending to do something that we're really not doing. Are you with me? This is really the earmark of a church. Can we be about the mission of God, the discipling of all nations?
Now that happens in a number of ways. Like I said earlier, different venues, through different personalities, different gifts. Yes, I would say amen to all of that but it all has to be pointed at the endgame that Christ left us with, go and make disciples of all nations. So I'm calling you pointedly and blatantly to a lifestyle of discipleship, a timetable transfer of transformational truth that has been left to us to someone else who then will transfer it to someone else who then will transfer it to someone else. Does that make sense, guys? That's what I'm calling you to. Only the Holy Spirit could empower this in us. We can't do this on our own so we have to trust the Comforter that Christ left us who lives within us, who seals us to make this happen.
Let me just take one or two questions perhaps, and then I just want to give you as a summary as we close. Are there maybe one or two questions that came in?
Is there a difference in mentor and disciple? My personal opinion is the only difference is if the end result is different. So if someone is mentoring you but the end result of that is multiplication, I would say that's discipleship. That's really the qualifying difference between discipleship, you may use the word coaching, you can use the word mentoring. I think that's the difference. So if it's just a matter of terms and language, I wouldn't let that trip you up. Don't let terms and language, as good as they can be at times, I think they're important, don't let them be a hurdle to getting the job done. So if someone says, "Hey, can you mentor me in this habit or this area?" The goal is that you then would kind of become somewhat of a person who could help someone else, that's just discipleship. If the goal isn't multiplication, if it's just like, "I'll help you and then you can be done," I guess that's just mentoring. So does that help a little bit? There is a difference but if the end goal is multiplication, replication, then there is really no difference at all.
Is there one more? Did you say building a relationship was a start? Yes, it's how we start this whole thing. This person says it seems like sometimes conversations stray off subject to following God to some personal discussions about ourselves and we get sidetracked. Let me encourage you with this. If someone has asked you to disciple them, and I think this question is coming from someone who says they have been asked to disciple and yet they keep getting off track in their discussions, you know, it just takes some time to build those relationships, okay? So in your mind you may be thinking, "Well, let's just dive in. Genesis 1:1. John 1:1, whatever. Here's the book, we'll study it and nothing about your life, no personal stories, no how are you, I'm doing fine. We've just got to get right to that." You may be kind of overestimating the relational nature or underestimating the relational nature of this deal, okay? So I would give that some time and try to establish some chips through just talking about how things are in life first. This is why this is a process that takes time, in Christ's situation, three years. A lot of discussion at some point in that and so if you find yourself like you think you're getting off track, be willing to bring it back on track, yes, but I wouldn't be afraid just to spend some time getting to know them and them you. That is how things start, is in a relationship and you've got to have some foundation for that, okay? If as that progresses there is never a desire to stay on track, then you've probably got a deeper issue and you can address that with the relationship, but I would encourage you to take the time to begin by just getting to know them and them you as well.
As we close today, I just want to bring one verse to your attention, okay? It's in 1 Corinthians. This is a good summary for what's going on here because what we see happening in Christ's life is they follow Christ, Christ entrusts the mission to them, they get others to follow them, they entrust the mission to them, and then it just repeats itself. This is exactly what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4 and I've been amazed by this verse most of the week because it almost sounds arrogant. I mean, it almost sounds spiritually proud but notice the train of imitation in these verses that really model for us what we've just seen in the book of Mark. Paul says to them, "I'm not writing to make you ashamed," and of course, in the book of 1 Corinthians he covered a lot of subjects that he had to kind of deal harshly with, sternly, but he said, "I'm admonishing you as my beloved children for though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers." In other words, you may have someone who's not got a relationship but I'm one with a relationship because I became your father in Christ Jesus through the Gospel. Here's the centrality of the word creating a relationship between the Corinthian believers and Paul as they came to Christ through the Gospel and so he says to them, "I'm like a father, not just like a tour guide. I'm like a father to you, so be imitators of me." Like, wow. You would think he would say, "So imitate Christ," but he actually says, "imitate me." Later he says, "imitate me as I follow Christ," but isn't this just incredibly, at least at first glance, it almost sounds like, "Wow, Paul, who do you think you are?" But he knows the power of a modeling relationship. He knows the power of an environment where there is time to follow someone and do what they do and he's saying, "So just follow me and if you'll imitate me, you will be obeying Christ."
But watch what happens next because you may wonder, "Well, how are they going to follow Paul? How will they imitate him?" He says, "This is why I sent you Timothy." Now catch that, he sent them Timothy so that they could know how to imitate him. Did you catch that? That's what the phrase "this is why" refers to. Why did Paul send Timothy? So that they could know how to imitate him. Do you see the three link chain there? Paul wasn't in Corinth but he sent Timothy, "my beloved," and look at this next phrase, "faithful child." He's called that in 2 Timothy 2:1-2, "because he will remind you of my ways in Christ as I teach them everywhere in every church." This is a crazy verse. Paul said, "I want you to imitate me. I can't be there so just listen to Timothy because he is doing everything that I would do. So if you'll follow Timothy, that will be like following me and it'll be good."
Man, these verses just describe the power, the exponential power of a discipleship environment and, church, I want to call us to that, to having this kind of mindset that it's a timetable transfer of transformational truth to the extent that we could eventually say, and I'll just use my son, I can say to someone, "Well, I'm going to send Brett so that you will know how to do what I would do." You would think that sounds arrogant, like it sounds proud, but it's just discipleship happening. He knows my heart so well, I have full confidence he'll relay that heart to someone over there and when I'm off the scene, someone can say, "Well, here's what Brett would do. I can assure you he would do this." And the train keeps going. It's just imitation. This is discipleship. Christ modeled it and let's embrace it to the exponential progress of the Gospel.
This series is a follow-up to the series we did called Intentional Evangelism for Normal People. You can check out those sermons here. Our primary goal with this series is to see every FFCer connected to/embrace a continuously multiplying lifestyle of discipleship on both ends—discipling and being discipled. Or, to say it another way, we long to see every FFCer connected to a discipling relationship on both ends — discipling and being discipled—in a multiplicational and continuous fashion. This is an audacious goal, but one that is commanded by Jesus in Matthew, modeled by the apostles in Acts, and patterned by church elders in 2 Timothy.