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Lesson 11: Discipling Spiritual Leaders *

Introduction: Consider Moses and the Apostle Paul. What traits did they have in common? I think of them as highly intelligent and highly educated men. Would you consider Jesus' disciples to have the same traits? Why did Jesus pick disciples who were not highly educated? We don't know how smart they were, but Jesus did call them "dull"( Matthew 15:16). Moses and Paul were great leaders - but so were the disciples. Something is going on with the training of the disciples that might bless our lives. Let's dive into our lesson and see what we can learn about the way Jesus trained future spiritual leaders!

  1. Picking Disciples

    1. Read Luke 6:12-13. What does this sequence of events suggest about the way that Jesus chose His apostles? (Serious prayer proceeded the selection. This suggests that Jesus sought the aid of heaven in the selection.)

      1. What should we do before we choose spiritual leaders in the church? (Pray!)

    2. Read Luke 6:14-16. What do you know about Jesus' choices? (We know for sure that one of those chosen betrayed Jesus. We have no information to indicate that they were current spiritual leaders, educated theologians, or civic leaders.)

      1. Why do you think Jesus picked a very limited number of disciples to be His apostles? Shouldn't everyone be treated equally? Shouldn't everyone have a turn at leadership? (This fits our study of two weeks ago where we learned that God is behind the structure of government. Jesus believed in organization.)

    3. Read Luke 6:17-19. What else seems connected with praying all night? (Power is streaming from Jesus. Just touching Jesus resulted in healing.)

    4. Read Luke 6:20-21. Is there merit in being poor, hungry and sad? (Read Proverbs 14:23 and Proverbs 19:15. According to Proverbs, achieving that is easy: talk instead of work, sleep too much, be lazy and shiftless, and you will be poor and hungry.)

      1. If we put what Jesus says together with what Proverbs says we find that the lazy who talk too much and sleep too much to get any work done will be blessed and satisfied in the Kingdom of Heaven. Does that sound about right?

    5. Read Luke 6:22. Here we learn that being hated, insulted and rejected as evil is also good. What is the most important part of this verse? (The reason behind it: "Because of the Son of Man.")

      1. Jesus says things that our common sense (and much of the rest of the Bible) tells us is just plain wrong. There is no merit in being poor, hungry, sad, hated, insulted and rejected as evil. These are not goals. If they are, unlike righteousness, they are easy to achieve. All sorts of people who have done little good, and a lot bad, achieve these goals. So, what do you think "because of the Son of Man" means? How does it modify the true meaning of what Jesus is teaching?

    6. Read Luke 6:23. Were the prophets lazy, shiftless, talkers who failed to work hard? (No!)

    7. Read Deuteronomy 28:1-6 and Deuteronomy 28:15-20. By now, you may be saying, "Bruce, you cite Deuteronomy 28 so much I've got it memorized!" How do you explain what Jesus is saying to His disciples? (He is telling them that their life pattern will be different. They may be poor, hungry and sad now because they are promoting Jesus. But, they will be rich, satisfied and happy in heaven.)

      1. What does this say to us? Which outcome is true for us, Deuteronomy 28 or Luke 6? (Look again at Luke 6:20-21. It says things will get better. The poor "now" will own the Kingdom of God. Those who weep "now" will laugh. In fact, Deuteronomy 28 parallels Luke 6 in many ways.)

    8. Read Hebrews 11:32-38. God tells us that good things or terrible things can happen to us in this world because of being faithful. How can we reconcile this with what we have discussed so far?

    9. Read Hebrews 11:39-40. Regardless of what happens on earth, what is the ultimate certainty? (That God's promise to His disciples will not be completely fulfilled until heaven! This is the ultimate promise that things will be right.)

    10. Let's circle back to be sure we have this connected to our topic. What does this teach us about training future spiritual leaders? (The near term economic side of things is uncertain. The long term economic side of things is certain.)

    11. Read Luke 6:24-25. Wait! This, of course, on its face completely contradicts Deuteronomy 28. How can we reconcile the two?

    12. Read Luke 6:26. How does this help solve this apparent conflict?(This is the key to solving this riddle. The first group were poor, hungry and sad, but because they were following Jesus they had a positive future. This group is rich, well fed and happy. However, they have a terrible future because they are like false prophets. This group is betraying Jesus and portraying Him in a false light.)

      1. Does what I am suggesting about these verses make sense to you? If not, look again at Luke 6:24-25. If being poor, hungry and sad are goals, these "woe" people (the currently rich, well-fed and happy) are on the road to meeting the goal! They are on the road to success!

    13. Context is extremely important in the Bible. Ripping out a single verse and studying it on its own can be deceiving. What kind of apostles did Jesus choose - those who were rich, well feed and happy? (No - at least not rich.)

      1. Is Jesus' continuing discussion an explanation of why He chose the unlikely disciples that He did? (Yes! He wants disciples (and this applies to us now) who are more interested in promoting the Kingdom of God than promoting themselves. He is interested in those who choose faithfulness to Him over those who compromise the message so that others will "speak well of you.")

    14. Read Acts 1:6-9. Did Jesus get what He wanted? Did the disciples get the message that wealth and power was not the goal? (It took a little time for Jesus' message to sink in that the goal was not personal influence and wealth.)

  2. Discipling Disciples

    1. We just saw that after all this time with Jesus, the disciples did not have a very good grasp of Jesus' message to them - a message He had been preaching from the time He selected them. Read John 16:7-11. What is the essential ingredient to getting Jesus' message right? (Having the Holy Spirit.)

    2. Read John 16:12. What limited Jesus in His teaching of the disciples? (They simply could not "bear" certain truth.)

      1. Who would bring them that truth, if not Jesus? (The Holy Spirit.)

      2. What does that teach us about our own walk with Jesus? (We need to remain open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Things we might not have been able to "bear" at one time may be truth that the Holy Spirit will reveal to us.)

      3. What does that teach us about discipling others? (We should use discretion about what new believers can "bear.")

        1. Does this mean that we should not require new believers to accept all of the doctrines?

      4. Read Romans 14:1 and Romans 14:22-23. Read the entire chapter if you want a fuller understanding. What does this suggest about what new believers can "bear?" (This suggests another view of what we were just discussing. Here, the new believer is zealous over some doctrine or teaching that those with stronger faith know is not correct. When we put these two ideas together, we learn to "take it easy" with correcting new believers - both in what they don't know and in what they think they know.)

    3. Read John 16:13-15. Who should be bringing the new believers into line? (The Holy Spirit! All the more reason to "take it easy" with new believers!)

    4. How can you explain the rapid growth in the disciples' understanding when the Holy Spirit came upon them? (Read 1 Corinthians 3:16. The Holy Spirit lives in us. He can continually teach us and lead us.)

    5. Friend, what do you think is the most important trait of a disciple? Jesus teaches us that it is not wealth, good-eating or happiness. Instead, it is seeking to advance the Kingdom of God through the power of the Holy Spirit. Will you commit today to seek to advance God's Kingdom through His Spirit?

  3. Next week: The Harvest and the Harvesters.
* Copr. 2014, 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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