Saturday, October 20, 2018

The Biblical Characteristics of Disciple Training

Not only does the Lord command the church to train disciples to observe all that he commanded, he has also given us numerous principles (or characteristics) of how he wants individual disciples to be trained.

Put together like a mosaic, they paint a picture of biblical ministry in the life of believers, and it looks nothing like modern day program-oriented ministry we see everywhere in the church today.

Here are some of the biblical characteristics of disciple training, found in the word of God.  A link to the pdf document is found by going HERE.

                                        The Teacher/Disciple Model 

What commandments/principles/examples do we see in Scripture regarding teachers and how disciples are to be trained?

Note: Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, by hearing the Scriptures alone, to the glory of God alone. No one is saved by works, or by obedience to God’s commandments. (Romans 3, 5:1 etc…)  However, once a person is saved, is justified by faith alone, their calling is now to learn to observe all that Christ commanded according to the Great Commission. Christ commissioned the church not only to preach the gospel so that people can be saved by coming to faith in Christ, but also to then train those new disciples to walk in his ways according to his word.

The Great Commission:  This is found in Matthew 28:18-20 as follows:

Matt 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."



It consists of five parts:

1. Christ’s authority to commision the church (v.18)  Our Lord commissioned us to do what is found in these verses. How can he be our Lord, if we do not want to do these three things? How can we say we love him, if we do not do them? Luke 6:46

2. The command to go and make disciples (v. 19). This is only done by preaching the word of God. (See Romans 10:14-17)   A disciple is more than just a convert and is a person who is now committed to learning to observe all that Christ commanded (v.20). (The word “disciple” means “pupil,” or “learner.”)  The church is called to “go” out into the world to preach the good news (Mark 16:15)

3. The command to baptize disciples (v. 19). The pattern from Scripture is that a new disciple is baptized almost immediately. Examples would be Acts 10:44-48 (Gentiles), Acts 16 (Lydia and the Philippian Jailer). In the Great Commission, training comes after the baptism.

4. The command to train disciples to observe all that Christ commanded (v. 20).  This should be done in accordance with the commands, principles and examples from God’s word (see below). When you examine all that the Bible says about “teaching them to observe all that Christ commanded,” a fairly detailed picture emerges. A disciple is to be taught to “observe,” which means to guard his life according to God’s word. The disciple is to be trained to obey the Lord, to do what he actually says in his word. This will only happen by grace, but it is the goal and calling of all Christians to learn this - to be doers of his word and not hearers only.  1 Peter 1:15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,

5. The declaration that Christ is with us always as we by grace obey the Great Commission (v.20).  We can have every confidence that that as we fulfill the Great Commission by grace, Christ is with us always. What great encouragement this is!

The Great Commission summarizes the whole of what the church is called to do. The church is to make, baptize and train disciples.  The Scriptures provide us with commandments, principles and examples to instruct us on how to fulfill it. Found below are portions of God’s word that speak to the training of disciples. We believe that these paint a definite picture (when taken as a whole) of how the church should be training disciples to observe all that Christ commanded.

Notice also that it is baptized disciples who are to be trained. The church is called to train baptized disciples. It is not called to train unbelievers.

Any success in any of the three things commissioned by Christ, is by grace alone, by his word alone, by his Spirit working alone. We are merely the instruments the Lord uses to accomplish his holy will in his people (See Eph 2:10, Phil 2:13). The exciting thing is that he will not accomplish any of his work without the church doing the Great Commission (See Romans 10). When Lazarus was raised from the dead, Christ called his disciples to roll the stone and remove the grave clothes (See John 11). Even though we are faulty instruments, the Lord chose in his wisdom to use his people to do these wonderful things! What a privilege and honor it is to serve the Lord!

Very Important!

None of the this can or should be “forced,” and the teacher/trainer is not to “lord over” the disciple. Both the trainer and disciple must engage in the training voluntarily.  They cannot be or should not be coerced, manipulated or anything of the sort to do this.  The training should only be the result of the preaching of God’s word and the working of the Spirit of God in the lives of individual believers.

The teacher/trainer is to lovingly, patiently, biblically, prayerfully, gently, teach and train the young disciple in the way of Christ. This takes a long time, requires biblical, selfless and God-given love, and any success is by the grace of God only.  All disciples of Christ (who truly believe and are saved) are called to be trained to learn to observe all that he commanded.  Is anyone exempted by the Lord to forego learning to observe all that he commanded?

The teacher/disciple model found in Scripture:  (Are these optional?)


A. The teacher/trainer is to be older/more mature Christians of the same gender. Titus 2:3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
B. The teacher/trainer is not only to teach sound doctrine but also is to train behavior. (See above) They are not just to teach that a woman should love her husband, but should train that disciple until she is actually loving her husband (biblically).  “...and so train the young women to love their husbands... See also Matt 28:20 - teaching them to observe all that I commanded…

C. The teacher/trainer is to both teach and admonish (correct) the disciple. Col 1:28 Him we proclaim, warning (admonishing) everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. Note that every disciple is to be trained this way. The goal of training disciples is maturity. Maturity requires both admonishment and teaching in the life of a disciple.

D. The teacher/trainer is to train the disciple to “observe” (or do) all of the commandments of Christ. Matt 28:20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. This addresses the scope of the training. It is not simply to teach a disciple that he should do something, but rather train them until they are actually doing it (by grace).

E. The teacher/trainer is to be an example of Christ in doctrine and behavior to the disciple and is to love the disciple the way Christ loved his disciples/Apostles. John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."  See also 1 Cor 11:1, 2 Tim 3:10 etc…

F. The teacher/trainer is to specifically pray for the maturity/obedience of the disciple he is training. Luke 22:31 "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you,that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers."

G. The teacher/trainer is to engage the disciple in life situations to further train the disciple in obedience to Christ. (Paul to his disciple Timothy) 2 Tim 3:10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra--which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me.  What benefit is the training if it cannot be practically applied in the life of the disciple.

H. The teacher/trainer is to train the disciple until he is mature. (See Col 1:28-29, Eph 4:11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

I. The teacher/trainer is to train the disciple until the disciple is obeying Christ in the same ways that the teacher/trainer is obeying Christ. Luke 6:40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone, when he is fully trained, will be like his teacher.  God shows the teacher something. The teacher shows the disciple that same thing. The teacher imitates Christ (by grace) so that the disciple can learn to imitate Christ. 1 Cor 11:1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

J. The teacher/trainer trains the disciple around the clock, meaning whenever there is the opportunity. (See Jesus training of his disciples in all four gospels.) This does not mean that the teacher Lords over the disciple, or gets into his affairs. It simply means that the teacher is available to the disciple as much as possible to love and help the disciple grow.

K. The teacher/trainer is to train specific individual disciples (not a class of disciples). Matt 4:18 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."  Disciples are individuals, with unique personalities, situations, experiences, who the Lord wants trained to grow up in every way unto Christ (See Eph 4). This is not done by large or even small groups. It is, in fact, impossible to train a disciple (“in every way…”) in a classroom.   Jesus trained the twelve, Paul trained Timothy.  Barnabus trained Mark etc… He admonished Peter privately, appropriately and lovingly.

1.  The argument is made that Jesus meeting with all twelve disciples is the same as a “bible study” or class today.  An examination of the gospels will indicate that this is not accurate as Jesus spent time doing all of the above with the men he trained. He did not give them a weekly class or bible study and in fact, engaged them throughout the week.  In addition to at times training all of his disciples at once, he clearly had personal relationships with them all, allowing for the above principles to occur.  While some learning may occur in classes and bible studies, the training of a disciple to “observe all that Christ commanded” is not possible in these settings.

L. The training is to be intentional and goal-oriented. No one becomes a mature believer by simply coming to church. The command to “teach them to observe all that Christ commanded” is a specific, goal-oriented command. Maturity doesn’t and won’t happen by osmosis.  Just as a person will not come to faith without someone preaching the gospel in some (biblical) form, (how will they believe if they do not hear?) no one will become mature without being trained by someone more mature. Titus 2:3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women…   While mutual encouragement and the hearing of preaching is biblical, the purpose of ministry in and to the church is to produce mature disciples who love Christ and manifest that love by grace by obeying his word.


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