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Lesson 13: Patterns of Discipleship *

Introduction: We have come to the end of this series of lessons on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Let's finish up this series by looking at how we work together as disciples. What kind of model for our work does the Bible present? Should we be selective about our Christian "friends?" Should we "play well" with believers that might not have exactly the right vision? Let's jump into our study and find out!

  1. Discerning Disciples.

    1. Read 1 Corinthians 12:1-3. What kind of track record do these disciples have in being able to tell the good guys from the bad guys? (Not so good. In the past they have been led astray.)

      1. Were their past errors understandable? (Paul says they were led astray by "mute idols." These guys could lose their way even without someone making a persuasive speech.)

        1. What would you guess are their odds of getting it right in the future? How would you help them get it right? (Their chances look bleak. So, making the judgment as simple as possible would be important.)

      2. What simple test does God give them (and us)? (A person operates through the Holy Spirit if they lead people to Jesus.)

    2. Read Acts 20:28-30. Are these "wolves" easy to spot? (This text is more worrisome than 1 Corinthians 12. These wolves do not reject the truth, they distort the truth.)

      1. If a person just distorts the truth, how can you apply the simple "Jesus be cursed," "Jesus is Lord" test? (Look again at Acts 20:30. The goal for "wolves" is to draw disciples "after them." The goal for true disciples is to make Jesus Lord. It seems that the true nature of the person (wolf or disciple) may take a while to become clear.)

        1. What should we do in the meantime? (If they say "Jesus is Lord" we give them the benefit of the doubt and keep alert.)

    3. Read 1 Corinthians 12:4-6. Why does this text stress the differences in the work of various disciples?

      1. Look at the line of logic in the first verses of 1 Corinthians 12, what do you think is being said? (The logic is about true and false disciples. Those powered by the Holy Spirit and those powered by self-ambition. This is an argument that even if a disciple is doing something much different than you are doing, that does not mean that person is out of the Lord's will. You have to look at where the work of the person leads. If they are leading people to Jesus, they are working with the Holy Spirit to do His bidding.)

        1. Would this apply to differences in music preferences?

        2. Would this apply to differences in worship preferences?

        3. Would this apply to an emphasis on certain spiritual gifts, for example speaking in tongues (or not)?

  2. Working Together

    1. Read 1 Corinthians 12:7-11. We are not going to go into the specific gifts. Instead, let's look at the overall message. What is the point of giving different Christians different gifts? (The first point is that we need to work together. Christians who "worship in the woods," Christians who listen to tapes, or television or the radio as their sole means of worship are missing a central theme of the Bible. God's church depends on teamwork.)

    2. I recently heard a preacher say that out of 1.5 million people who live in the area, only about 2,000 had the gospel. Re-read 1 Corinthians 12:8. What do you think is the "message of knowledge?" (I think it can mean "knowledge of the Bible." What this preacher meant, and I think he was pointing out truth, is that a limited number have a good understanding of the gospel. This is a spiritual gift that should be shared with those who have other spiritual gifts. It does not mean that those with that gift are somehow superior, or the only ones who are saved.)

    3. Read 1 Corinthians 12:14-16. What do you think is the likely attitude of the foot and ear? Are they saying they are too good to be part of the body? Do they feel inadequate to be part of the body? (It seems they feel inadequate because they want to be some other part.)

    4. Read 1 Corinthians 12:21. What kind of attitude do the eye and head have? (They have a superiority complex.)

    5. I run into many more "eye and head" Christians than I do "foot and ear" Christians. My church thinks it is superior to all other Christian churches. I assume members of other churches feel that way too. Is the message of 1 Corinthians 12 just for people within a specific denomination? Or, is this a message for all of the various denominations? (The "boundary lines" set by this chapter separates those who are led by the Holy Spirit and those who are not. My view is that this cuts across denominational lines. If your church has a special message, preach it. Don't arrogantly think you are better because of it - because some other group will have its own special gift and message that the world also needs.)

  3. Playing Well Together

    1. Read Luke 17:1-3. In working together with fellow disciples, we are not to close our eyes to truth. Who does Jesus say we should be watching? ("Watch yourselves.")

      1. Why not watch the other guy? Afer all, he is the one leading people astray!

      2. What does Jesus mean by "yourselves?" (It seems that I am not just watching me - although that is a full-time task! It seems the Christian community is watching itself.)

        1. How is this supposed to work? Historically, I have been very upset when Christians attack fellow Christians. Am I wrong? Are we only to "attack" (watch) fellow Christians? (One of the gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:10 is "distinguishing between spirits." We are not to attack another Christian just because he has a different approach. However, true sin needs to be rebuked. It also needs to be forgiven.)

    2. Read Luke 17:7-9. How would you answer the question in verse 9? (I would thank the servant, but I think we have a time and culture issue here. The correct answer is "no," he would not thank the servant.)

    3. Read Luke 17:10. Why is a servant unworthy if he does his duty? (He has done only what he was paid to do. The "worth" was paid for. If the servant does more, he has uncompensated worth.)

      1. You may protest that the servant (if he was a slave)had not been paid anything. What about you? Have you been paid to be a disciple of Jesus? (He paid for you with His life.)

      2. What kind of attitude do you have towards your work as a disciple?

      3. I hear others (and myself) saying three different kinds of things:

        1. "I'm not being spiritually fed."

        2. "This church does not appreciate me."

        3. "What more can I do to help?"

        4. According to Luke 17:10, which of these would a disciple with the right attitude say?

          1. When Jesus recites this story, is He giving a lesson for masters or servants? (I don't think Jesus is teaching us as "masters" to work fellow believers and not thank them. He is speaking to us as disciples who serve. Don't think that you are entitled to praise when you do your work. Don't think you are entitled to have others do the work for you. God paid for you with His life, you owe Him a great deal.)

    4. Friend, what kind of a disciple are you? Do you work with others? Do you realize the importance of the gifts given to others? Do you put away spiritual arrogance? Do you have the attitude that you are just grateful to be part of the work? If not, confess your sin and pray that the Holy Spirit will change your heart to make you a better disciple.

  4. Next week we begin a new series of lessons on the ministry of Jesus.
* Copr. 2008, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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