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What does a mature disciple really look like? Did you know that someone can be an outstanding preacher, a knowledgeable Bible scholar, a visionary leader, and even a missionary martyr, but still not be a mature disciple?  In this lesson, you’ll learn from Scripture what the final product of biblical discipleship should really look like.
What does a mature disciple of Jesus Christ look like?

In this 6-part series you’ll be equipped to:

      • Discover practical insights from Jesus’ discipleship methods
      • Explain the nature and benefits of an intentional discipleship plan
      • Describe the benefits of understanding and applying 5 key biblical-universal principles in discipleship
      • Summarize the essential marks of a mature disciple
      • Design a discipleship model for developing fully-devoted followers of Christ
      • Introduce a process for implementing discipleship pathways in your church

This brief video (8:43) will help you focus on the vital marks of spiritual maturity in a true disciple of Jesus Christ.

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Read the New Transcript Below

Watch the Video

What does a mature disciple really look like? Did you know that someone can be an outstanding preacher, a knowledgeable Bible scholar, a visionary leader, and even a missionary martyr, but still not be a mature disciple?  In this lesson, you’ll learn from Scripture what the final product of biblical discipleship should really look like.

What does a mature disciple of Jesus Christ look like?

First and foremost a mature disciple is someone who is marked by love.

We saw earlier that Jesus’ commission to make disciples culminates in his command to teach his followers how to obey all his commandments. When someone asked Jesus which of the commandments is the most important, he responded by teaching it is love for God and others. (Matt 22:34-40)

Then Jesus said, “On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt 22:40). In other words, Jesus is teaching that loving God and loving others is the essential application of all of God’s commands in Scripture.

The first tablet of the Ten Commandments contains the first four commandments that teach us how to love God. The second tablet contains the last six commandments that teach us how to love others.

In 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, the Apostle Paul says that someone can have remarkable virtues, but if they are missing love, they are nothing.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

This means someone can be an outstanding preacher, a knowledgeable Bible scholar, a faith-filled leader, and even a missionary martyr, but still not be a mature disciple if they don’t have love.

Paul continues in the next verses giving several practical examples of what a loving person looks like. If we substitute the words “a mature disciple” for love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, we have an insightful description of what the final product of biblical discipleship should look like:

(A mature disciple) is patient and kind; does not envy or boast; is not arrogant or rude; does not insist on their own way; is not irritable or resentful; does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.

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The Signs of Health

A mature disciple is also spiritually healthy. What are some essential marks of spiritual health?

We learned earlier that the Bible gives us several vital signs of a spiritually health church body, including:

  • Worship: They were praising God (2:47)
  • Learning: They were devoted to the Apostles’ teaching (2:42)
  • Fellowship: They were devoted to the fellowship (2:42)
  • Prayer:  They were devoted to the prayers (2:42)
  • Evangelism: Those who were being saved were added (2:47)
  • Mercy: They distributed proceeds to any who had need (2:45)
  • Missions: They laid their hands on them and sent them off (13:3)

The only way a church body can be healthy is if the church members are spiritually healthy. So a healthy, mature disciple is a microcosm of a healthy mature church.

This means that a mature disciple is devoted to worship, learning, fellowship, prayer, evangelism, mercy, and missions.

The Restoration of Relationships

It’s helpful to see these vital signs of spiritual health in light of the good news of God’s redeeming and restoring work of all things lost in the Fall through Jesus Christ.

As a result of the Fall of humanity into sin, three primary relationships were broken: 1) our relationship with God, 2) our relationship with others, and 3) our relationship with the world.

The good news is that the Father’s creation, ruined by the Fall of humanity, is being redeemed by Jesus Christ and restored by the Holy Spirit into the kingdom of God. A disciple of Jesus Christ is someone who is being swept up into God’s cosmic restoration project and experiencing Christ’s redemption and restoration in all these relationships of life.

We focus on developing the vital signs of spiritual health as a means of helping disciples flourish in the redemption and restoration of all these relationships. Therefore, growing in worship, prayer, learning, fellowship, evangelism, mercy, and missions is essential to growing in our relationship with God, others, and the world.

Although all the signs of health can help restore all the vital relationships in life, it’s helpful to focus on ways that specific signs of health can uniquely help strengthen certain relationships.

Restoring Relationships to God through Worship

Mature disciples grow in their relationship with God when they regularly gather with other disciples to worship God in spirit and truth.

By making the first two of the Ten Commandments about worship, God reveals that he sees worship as the highest display of love for him.

Biblical worship is the most significant vital sign of spiritual health because it contains the essential means of grace God has ordained for spiritual growth, including preaching, sacraments, praying, etc.

Restoring Relationships to Others through Fellowship

Although gathering regularly with other disciples for public worship is essential for the spiritual growth of a disciple, it’s not adequate.

God designs us in his interpersonal, Triune image so that we cannot grow to maturity in our relationship with him apart from having meaningful relationships with other disciples in his church.

Although the Bible doesn’t command us to structure a local church in groups, it presents us with a call to community that requires believers to be in groups in order to have meaningful community. Discipleship should be taking place as a normal way of life when followers of Christ meet together regularly to encourage one another to love and good works. (Heb 10:24-25)

Under the oversight of godly pastors and shepherds, the leaders of these groups, over time, should help members with the balanced development they need to be healthy, growing disciples.

Restoring Relationships to the World through Service

The gospel restores more than our broken relationship with God and others. It also restores our broken relationship with the world. Therefore, a mature disciple’s love for God and others will be reflected in their love for the broken world.

The Apostle Paul teaches that God is now, through Christ, “reconciling to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Col 1:19).

This means the world is not rigidly divided between the sacred and the secular. Instead, the good news is that Jesus is now Lord over all areas of life and reconciling to Himself all things.

First and foremost, God is now reconciling lost people to himself through Christ by the Holy Spirit. Jesus said he came “to seek and save the lost.” And when Jesus called his disciples, he called them to be “fishers of men.” From the New Testament perspective, this means if you are a follower of Jesus, it is assumed that you are a fisher of men, devoted to evangelism.

Mature disciples are also devoted to seeing the invisible kingdom of Christ made visible throughout every sphere of life by not only words of truth but also relentless acts of mercy and justice. Living justly means living in recognition of all the kinds of spiritual darkness in the world that desperately needs the light of the gospel in word and deed.

Disciples of Jesus are called not only to walk humbly with God, but also to do justice and love mercy. (Micah 6:8)

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Registration closes March 15

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Early Rain Church Elder Li Yingqiang Wang Yi and his wife Zhang Xinyue

Editor’s note: Zhang Xinyue, the wife of Early Rain Covenant Church elder and school headmaster Li Yingqiang (Elder Timothy), wrote the following letter to her husband the night after he was arrested last December. He is still in prison and charged with “internet provocation.”

Dear husband,

Last night I slept well. When I woke up this morning, I heard that you had been taken away. At that moment, my heart had great peace because I knew you had already prepared for this moment long ago.

I haven’t been able to sleep tonight. I’m sure things are hard for you right now, too. So I’ll just accompany you in your sleeplessness. I want to tell you a few things in case you might see this.

I heard that they usually bring you back to your home when they search it. I subconsciously hoped to use that opportunity to see you for a moment, but they still haven’t come. I’m not going to wait any longer. I’m not afraid of them at all. On the contrary, I pity them. I hope you do, too.

I know you must be worried about me, because you’ve seen how much of a mess I’ve been lately. But I’m doing very well now. I’ve loved the Lord more these past two days than I ever have before. More than anything, my heart is joyful and at peace. At night, tears flow by themselves. But it’s not grief. It’s hard to say exactly what it is. I just spent a long time thinking about it, and I’m still thinking to myself, “Why are you crying?”

I finally asked myself, “Aren’t you willing to experience this tiny little bit of pain for the Lord?” My conclusion was, “I’m willing.” I’m very willing, because I know that this slight, momentary affliction is not worth comparing to that eternal glory that is to come. I’m willing to foot that bill. So why am I crying? It might just be because I’m human.

But you can completely relax. Crying is one thing. Finishing crying is another. I allow myself to cry, but I haven’t felt the least bit of despair. Even if I look for it, I can’t find any. Sometimes I want to despair for a moment and grieve a little bit, but I really don’t feel like it. So, forget about it. I think the Lord has replaced that despair with his fullness.

The little ones miss you. I told them, “Missing daddy is normal. It would be strange not to miss him. If you miss him, then miss him.” Little Di then immediately said, “After we fall asleep, we won’t miss him anymore.” And then he immediately fell asleep.

This afternoon I prayed with you according to our agreed upon time. Sorry, I was ten or so minutes late.

Lastly, I want to say that knowing what I’m going to receive as a result of what I’m going through now makes me feel so much better. I really do thank our Father in Heaven. His plans are most certainly the best. They cannot be mistaken. So, what more is there to say? I will joyfully accept them.

I love you! I’m going to bed now.
12/12/2018, 3:52 a.m.”


昨天晚上我睡了个好觉,早晨起来得知你被找到带走了,那一刻我的心里非常平静, 因为我知道对于那一刻,你早预备好了。

今天晚上我失眠了,我感觉你现在肯定也不好过,干脆陪你一起不睡吧。和你说说话, 万一你能看到呢。

据说他们一般会带卷你回来抄家,我潜意识里想趁着这个机会看你一眼,但是到现在还 没来,不等了。对他们,我一点也不恨,倒是很同情,希望你也如此。

我知道你肯定挺为我担心的,因为最近 我在你面前的表现实在太糟糕了,但是我现在 挺好的,这两天我比以往任何时候都爱主,心里更多的是平安喜乐。夜晚的时候,眼泪会自 己流出来,但不是悲伤,具体说不上是什么原因,刚才我实实在在为这事想了很久,我在想,我哭啥子呢?最后我问自己,你难道不想为了主,经历这一点点的痛苦吗?结论是:我愿愆,很愿意,因为我知道,这至暂至轻的痛苦,和将来永久的茉耀相比,实在是不值一 提,这个账我还是会算的。那我为什么哭呢? 可能只是因为我还是个人吧。只是你完全可以 放心,哭是一回瑱,哭完是另一回事。我允许 自己哭,但是我一点也没有绝望的感觉,想找 也找不出来。有时候我想绝望一下,悲惝一 下,但是实在是没有那种感觉,还是算了。我想是主已经把那个绝望填满了吧。

娃们还是会想你,我对他们说,想爸爸 才是正常的,不想才奇怪呢,想就想呗。小弟 马上说,睡卷了就不想了。然后他们马上就睡着了。



2018-12.12 3:5

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