Lessons in Discipleship(26) دروس في التلمذة

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          This is Dr. Ed Hoskins welcoming you to Lessons in Discipleship, a series designed to help new believers become established in their Christian faith.  Today’s session is Multiplying Disciples.  First, let me tell you a little about myself.  I am a retired physician who spent 34 years in family medicine and student health.  I became a Christian 50 years ago and was helped early in my faith by the Navigators, an international non- denominational Christian organization whose stated goal is To Know Christ and to Make Him Known.  I have been on staff with that organization since 1980.  Lessons in Discipleship is a compilation of what I learned during that time from the Bible and under the direction of the Navigators.  What I learned then I now pass on to you.  Today’s session is Multiplying Disciples.

Jesus spent three years living with his disciples and teaching them everything he wanted them to know.  He prayed with them.  He taught them.  He walked with them and suffered with them.

He also taught them to meet the needs of others, including casting out demons and healing the sick.  In the gospel of Mark we read that Jesus “designated them (the twelve) apostles – that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach.” (Mark 3:14)

Then in the gospel of Matthew Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Notice that Jesus started with these twelve, but he was always looking beyond the twelve.  Through the twelve he was looking at the nations in the rest of the world.

Let’s keep looking at this concept.  In the gospel of John we see Jesus’ prayer in the garden.  He’s speaking with God.  “I pray for them (the twelve).” (John 17:9)  He continues, “My prayer is not for them alone.  I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father… so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:20-21)

In that passage we see four different generations.  First we see Jesus investing in them (the twelve) – they are the second generation.  Third, we see those who will believe in me through their word.  And fourth, that the world may believe.  That all happened in the first 2000 years and includes us today.

The apostle Paul writes to his disciple Timothy, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust  to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others also.” (Second Timothy 2:2)

But Paul also was looking at a series of generations to invest in spiritually.  First there was Paul.  Second there was Timothy, who was then to pass on to reliable men (third generation), who in turn would be able to teach others also (fourth generation).  Paul didn’t only do it with Timothy.  He also did it with many others, like Silas, and Barnabas, and Lydia, and the Philippian jailer, and many others.  Well, this kept going and ultimately he is looking at the world.  In fact, we are here today 2000 years later, because Paul, and many others like him passed on Jesus’ commands for discipleship.  Jesus wanted them to pass on to others everything he had taught and showed them about himself.  This was Jesus’ plan.  He wants us to do the same.  And incidentally, this is the key to multiplying disciples – having them to pass on to others what we have learned about Jesus and following him.

I always like this five step process in passing on truth.  First, whenever I’m trying to pass on an important teaching, tell the person why – show them from the Bible why this truth or skill is important.  Second, show them how to do it.  You know, take them by the hand, give it to them in a practical example.  Do it together with them.  Third, get them started.  Everyone has inertia, but we can help them get started.  Fourth, people are going to get discouraged.  We check up on them and keep encouraging them to keep going.  Fifth, get them to pass it on to others – that’s the real key to multiplying disciples – have them pass it on to others.

If there is someone who just wants to go out and preach to thousands they could preach to ten or a hundred or a thousand people every day. We think that would be fantastic.  But realistically, that’s just adding.  If each person we teach passes on to someone else, that becomes multiplication.

Let’s look at the checkerboard illustration.  Take one kernel of wheat and place it on the first square of a checkerboard which has 64 squares.  Now we double this on square 2 – or 2 kernels of wheat.  Double it again.  Now how many kernels are on square 3?  Now there are four!  And eight on the next square.  How much wheat do you think you would have at the end – on all 64 squares of the checkerboard?

Figuring 1,000,000 kernels of wheat to a bushel of wheat, at the end you have enough wheat to bury the entire state of Indiana nearly fifteen miles deep.  That is the power of multiplying your efforts rather than just adding.  The key to multiplying disciples is teaching those you disciple to pass on to others what you have learned from Jesus and what they learned from you.

Here’s another illustration. Take a single page of typing paper – stacked up this is probably 100 pages to the inch.  Now we will take one  sheet of typing paper, fold it in two, then fold it again and again and again.  If you could fold it 50 times, how thick do you think it would be?

Well, obviously this can’t be done, but if you could do it, you would wind up with a stack of paper that would be more than 177 million miles high.  That is enough to reach to the moon and back 371 times.  This is the power of multiplying your efforts rather than just adding.

Again, the key to multiplying disciples is teaching those you disciple to pass on to others what you have learned from Jesus.  Incidentally, I became involved in that kind of multiplying disciples 50 years ago and I am still involved in that to this day.

Let’s summarize what we’ve learned in this brief presentation.

First, Jesus spent three years of his life living with his disciples, eating with them, preaching with them, and meeting the needs of the lost.

Second, he told his disciples, his followers, to go and do the same.  That was Jesus’ strategy, demonstrating discipleship and teaching them to do the same.  Jesus’ vision was always, ultimately, the world.

Third, there is great power in multiplying your efforts by spiritually building deeply into those you are helping.  It may seem slow at first, taking six months or a year, maybe even five years, and sometimes longer.  But it produces the most long lasting and permanent effects.  We are here today because Jesus’ disciples did just that.

Take what you’ve learned in these topics from Lessons in Discipleship and do the same with others.  May God give you the strength and grace to keep going.  Keep proclaiming the gospel and keep following Jesus.

Well, we will see you next time when we cover lesson 27 in Lessons in Discipleship when our topic will be the Shamgar Principle.

That wraps up today’s presentation of Lessons in Discipleship.  Thanks for being a part.  Until next time, keep following Jesus.  He’s worth it!


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