The word disciple or disciples occurs 268 times in the New Covenant while the word Christian or Christians occurs only 3 times. We can safely conclude that discipleship is a vital part of our life for God. I go as far as to say that you cannot be a Christian if you are not first a disciple. That is why the last few posts concerned discipleship and why we continue that theme today.
Discipleship is not something we simply study about. Discipleship is more than learning about Jesus and memorizing scripture. A disciple is one whom emulates the life of Jesus, making Christ’s goals his own goals. This morning I want to share four principles form 2 Timothy 2 that are important to discipleship.
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 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. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. (2 Timothy 2:1-10)
- Be Strengthened by Grace. The phrase is in the present passive imperative case indicating the idea of “keep on being empowered” by grace. Grace is the source of our empowerment. We are all sinners in need of the grace of God. When we remember that, we are more likely to focus our life of living for God and being gracious to others sinners who are also in need of the grace of God.
- Consistently Invest in the Lives of Others. “What you have heard from me . . . entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” To entrust is to make a secure deposit to invest. As I heard a college student and member of Tide4Christ recently say, “We are not containers of the Gospel, but a conduit through which God’s grace flows.” I learned from someone, I teach you, you learn from me and in turn teach others.
- Personalize Truths from God’s Word. “Think over what I say.” Some versions use the word, “consider.” The idea is to draw a mental picture in your mind. When I was playing basketball the coaches would tells us to envision the ball going through the rim and net before we took a free throw. Maybe the idea of thinking over or considering is to see yourself living for Christ and considering how you can live for Him 24 hours a day.
- Be Ready. Specifically, Paul is warning Timothy of the sufferings that he could face as a disciple. Sufferings similar to the ones Paul faced himself. Discipleship is not for the thin-skinned. Our patience will face testing. The road will not always be smooth. We must predetermine that we are completely committing our lives to Christ, no matter the trials to come.
The time is NOW to put these principles in action. Be like the enduring soldier, the athlete in training, and the hard working farmer. Invest in the cause of Christ. The greatest cause much larger than yourself. Invest in the well-being of others and faithfully follow the Lord.