A Basic Course in Discipleship
By G.E. Mullings
Edited by Stephen Russell
This edition: December 1, 1998a.
Unless otherwise noted Scripture
quotations taken from the
Holy Bible, New International Version.
Copyright Ó 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.
Used by permission.
This material is not to be duplicated without the permission
of the SCFSU, 1 Gordon
Town Road, Kingston 6, Jamaica.
a word borrowed from the world of commerce, is an unfortunate term. The very
sound of the word suggests: "afterthought". Nothing could be further
from the true value of taking time to consolidate one's Christian commitment
and to build up the knowledge, attitudes, values and skills which are vital
for successful Christian living.
is in this context that ABCD has been developed, primarily for use in small
groups. We suggest that you do the first session together, then agree on a
schedule for working through the rest of the course. There are nine scheduled
sessions in this course which have been selected to give a solid overview
of Christian Discipleship. Don't be afraid to go slower than suggested if
you need the time.
our Lord and Saviour bless and prosper you as you seek to serve him.
each of the following meetings we suggest that you open with prayer and sharing.
This should take about fifteen minutes. Then spend the next half an hour on
the topic for the meeting. Finally take a few minutes to reflect, share, and
pray. (The first meeting will be somewhat exceptional to this pattern.)S
letter to the group leader
has given us a clear, powerful mandate: "All authority in heaven and
on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,
baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am
with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)
no higher authority exists. Equally clearly, we are to work so that men will
commit themselves to Christ, be nurtured in obedience to him, and will in
turn go out as fellow workers with him in the world.
this course, our focus is on the process of consolidating commitment, and
upon nurture. But we must keep in mind the objective: the world. Equally,
we must bear in our hearts Jesus' reminder that discipleship largely works
by example: the blind can lead the blind - about as far as the nearest
ditch (see Luke 6:39, 40).
we go, therefore, let us all work together so that we can grow together as
disciples of Christ.
bless and keep you,
letter to the new disciple
this greeting catches you by surprise. If so, it is to emphasize a point:
we are all disciples - followers, apprentices, students - of one Lord and
Master, Jesus the Christ. Even Paul of Tarsus could only say to those who
looked to him for spiritual leadership, "follow my example, as I follow
the example of Christ." (1 Corinthians 11:1)
example is Jesus. Your group leader or any other spiritual leader, at best,
is simply a more advanced student. As such we urge you to learn from our mistakes
as much as from our successes. Above all, look to Christ, the perfect example.
this course, our aim is mutual nurture, or building up. "Since we have
confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus ... and since
we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with
a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to
cleanse us from a guilty conscience ... let us consider how we may spur one
another on to love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as
some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all
the more as you see the Day approaching..." (Hebrews 10:19-25)
Today, we will...
to know each other a bit better
a quick look at ABCD
how to work through ABCD
on how we can be sure that God has really really really accepted us
"As we come together, please give us guidance and wisdom, Lord. Help
us to draw close to you and to one another in your Church. Especially help
us as we embark on this course."
a little: get to know each other a little more and relax a bit.
the two letters - the one to the group leader and the one to the new disciple.
do you think about what was read?
are the important points? Do they make sense?
you want to work through ABCD together?
can you go about it?
we ever be sure that God has accepted us?
John 3:14-18. Jesus was talking with a leader of the Jews. He compared himself
with what had happened when the Israelites were attacked by poisonous snakes
in the desert. God told Moses to put a bronze snake on a pole and everyone
who looked at it was saved from the poison (Numbers 21:4-9).
was Jesus "lifted up"? Why?
are we to "look up" to him? (v 15-16)
does it mean to "believe in" Jesus? (See Romans 4:4-8; 5:1-2. Focus
on "trusts God")
does God promise to "whoever believes in" Jesus? What does "eternal
life" mean? (See John 17:3. Note the difference between "knowing
about" and "knowing" a person - relationship.)
you believed in Jesus? What do you have, then? Why can you be sure?
on God's promise - read the passage in John's gospel again and again.
God, in prayer for his love and his gift.
about God's love and gift with a friend.
Joshua 1:1-9. Moses had died, and Joshua had to take over, just when major
battles were ahead. God took him aside and had a talk with him.
the promises God makes. Why is it vital for God to be "with you wherever
did God expect Joshua to do every day? Why?
Joshua did as God instructed what would happen?
can we apply this to our lives today? (Examine 2 Timothy 3:14-17)
does prayer (talking with God) fit in? (Skim Psalm 63)
a quiet time...
Scripture Union has rather neatly summed this up:
God to help you understand the main point of what you read.
is the main point of the passage?
does it teach you about God?
there a promise, example, warning or command you should note?
insights into yourself, your situation and your relationships do you receive?
your discoveries in mind, praise God for who he is and what he has done, confess
your shortcomings and receive his forgiveness, ask him to act in your life
and in our world.
and work on practical steps for living what you have learned.
a daily quiet time habit.
on progress so far
another look at the Gospel
how to share the gospel with others (or at least make a start)
"Lord, help us to understand and value your Good News. Give us the
courage and wisdom to share it with others so that they too might come to
a little: How was the week? How have your quiet times been? What have you
learned and done?
John 4:1-30, 39-42. (It's a story.) On his way to Galilee, Jesus stopped
by a well at noon and waited. At noon, an outcast woman (only such a person
would draw water in the heat of the day) came by.
asked her for a drink. She didn't expect that. Why? How did it get a conversation
Jesus was talking about two kinds of water. When the woman asked for his magic
water he said, "Go, call your husband ..." Why did this trigger
did Jesus handle the confrontation?
was the result?
up, what was his strategy?
we too seek to share the gospel.
that you are talking with a friend. How could you bring the gospel into the
the Gospel bites home many people lash out or try to avoid its teeth. How
could you respond?
key steps are needed to inform about the Gospel and lead one who responds
some role-playing. Take turns and see how typical situations can work out.
Draw up an outline for sharing the Gospel and leading someone to Christ.
the Gospel with a few people.
to Give Away Your Faith", Paul Little, IVP
of the Saltshaker", Becky Manley-Pippert, IVP
the last session
"Lord, help us to appreciate your gift of fellowship. Let us never
get into the habit of isolating ourselves from your people. Rather, Let
us encourage and build one another up."
a little: How has it been going? How are your quiet times progressing? How
have people responded when you shared with them about Jesus?
Acts 2:36-47. Startling events had happened - tongues of fire from heaven
and rushing mighty winds. A crowd gathered and Peter preached. They now
wanted to know what to do.
did Peter tell the people to do? Why?
did "those who accepted his message" go on to do? (Note v 42, 44-47)
the light of Hebrews 10:23-25 how should we follow their example?
examine Ephesians 4:11-13, 15-16.
has God given leaders to the Church?
are to do the works of Christian service so that the body may be built up?
does this relate to us today?
the above how should we be involved in the life and service of a local church?
a list of possible areas of service you can render to Christ.
how you can become a member of a vibrant local church.
ways you can get involved in para-church ministries at school or work.
Power, Spiritual Struggle
Today, we will...
the last session
the nature of spiritual warfare
some secrets of victory
"Lord, grant us the insight, power and courage to be victorious in
our conflict with the powers of darkness, in our own lives, in our schools,
in our Churches, in our nations and in the whole world."
a little: How do your friends respond when you share with them about Jesus?
What are some areas in which we can do works of service to Christ? Have
you found a local church to become part of? Have you found out how to be
involved in other ministries at school or work?
was our past condition?
three enemies had us in their power? In what ways were we enslaved?
did God rescue us? To what end?
our enemies given up? If not, how can we defeat them? (Examine Ephesians 6:10-18
and reflect on the value of our "weapons" - prayer (especially for
one another), truth, righteousness, the Gospel, faith, salvation and the Word
Bible also stresses focussing our minds on the things of God (Romans 8:5-6;
12:1-2; Colossians 3:16) and being filled with - empowered and controlled
by - the Spirit of God (Ephesians 5:18-21; Acts 1:4-8; 2:17-21,33,38-39).
are some ways we can focus our minds on the things of God? (Read 2 Timothy
3:14-17 and recall Joshua 1:1-9.)
can we be empowered and controlled by the Holy Spirit? (Note Romans 8:9-14
and Luke 11:9-13. Also note the individual and corporate stresses in Ephesians
5:18-21 - "Speak to one another".)
important points ...
Christians fall into sin. We need to confess it to God (1 John 1:9) and
sometimes to other believers who can pray with us (James 5:16).
to overcome sin is normal Christian experience. The apostle John, writing
to Christians, states "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves
..." (Read 1 John 1:5 - 2:2 carefully.)
the other hand, the Christian experience should be one of growth in truth,
faith, love, purity and power. If you find yourself to be stalled seek prayer,
encouragement and counsel from mature believers. (Note the promise in 1
on God's promise to give us "everything we need for life and godliness".
(See 2 Peter 1:2-11.)
a prayer list and pray for other believers - ask them what they would like
you to pray for them about.
to note down, memorize and reflect on key passages from the Bible.
your sins to God and, where necessary, to other Christians who can counsel
and pray with you.
Relationships and Sex
progress to date
on God's design for family, society and sex
how to handle some typical problems
"Thank you Father for your precious gifts, especially family, friends
and sexuality. Help us to use them well, building up ourselves and others."
a little: Do your friends still say you are "just going through a phase"?
Are you visibly growing in love, faith, truth, purity and power?
on the family...
Bible's account begins with the first human family. Thereafter it views
that family as the normal context for sex, childbirth, growth, moral education
and preparation for life. In short, the family is the centre and basis of
society. Read Genesis 18:19 and compare it with Proverbs 1:1-9 to see the
force of this point.
responsibilities: examine Ephesians 5:22-6:9.
are the duties of husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and slaves?
do they cut across our natural tendencies?
can we fulfill them?
Read Matthew 7:3-5 and 18:15-17. Compare the point of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
with the force of James 3:13-4:3.
attitudes should we cultivate?
action steps should we take to resolve conflicts?
Read Romans 1:18-32 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. Note the force of Matthew
5:27-30 and 1 Timothy 5:1-2. Compare Genesis 2:18-24 with 1 Corinthians
6:15-20 to see how sexual immorality violates a life-uniting and family
building act of love.
the Bible's view (the act of union being restricted to the context of union)
it true that attitudes and thoughts can be as sinful as physical acts?
can we cultivate pure, healthy sexuality?
yokes: Read 2 Corinthians 6:13-7:1
there any relationships in your life, romantic or otherwise, which are forcing
you to compromise standards of truth and right?
should you do? How? When?
on these four points.
Today, we will...
how we can handle doubts and challenges to the Christian faith
"Give us wisdom to understand the relationship between faith and reason,
Lord, and the courage to live by faith in you in an uncertain world."
a bit: How was your week? How are your Christianity and your sexuality getting
the following points:
men live by faith. To see this, take any proof and ask at each stage, "why
should I accept this claim?" Sooner or later you will come to basic
assumptions accepted without further proof. This is the point of faith.
Even science and mathematics work in this way. In short, the question is
not whether to believe, but what to believe and why.
of the things Christians believe are hotly disputed or attacked. Sometimes,
the very fact that we admit to working by faith is held against us. At other
times, we are full of doubts or questions - a very normal experience in
the Christian life. The big question, of course, is what to do about these
some time to discuss questions you may have about the Christian faith.
can we do...
the basics of our faith. As 1 Peter 1:16 and 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, 12-20
stress, our faith is founded on facts: Jesus, his death, burial and resurrection.
honest about questions and doubts. They exist. And hard questions are hard
because they don't have easy answers. Every set of answers - every faith
- has difficulties, not just the Christian message.
After two thousand years, chances are that someone else has asked and investigated
the question you have in mind. See how others have dealt with it.
pray, discuss, seek the truth.
all, trust God. If he is real and cares for you, he will help.
Christianity", C.S. Lewis
than a Carpenter", Josh McDowell
that Demands a Verdict", Josh McDowell
on the Run",
a good introduction to Apologetics (the branch of theology dealing with
this area) and read it.
God in Church and Society
Today, we will...
progress to date
the fact that we are God's stewards called to serve him in the Church and
the community at large.
"Lord, help us as we seek to rejoice with the Psalmist who sings, 'the
earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in
it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters,'
(Psalm 24:1-2). And As we confess that we belong to you, help us to serve
a bit: How have things been? How has your introduction to Apologetics been
Psalm 24:1-2 emphasizes, we are God's people. As such he has called us to
serve him in the world. Read Ephesians 4:9-16.
did Christ descend then ascend?
"gifts" has he given to us? Why?
are God's people to be prepared "for works of service"?
will happen as we serve Christ?
are some ways that we can serve God in the Church? In the world?
can we view our family life, studies, career and community involvement from
includes the idea of being a servant, being given a trust and being held
accountable for it. Read Luke 19:11-26 and 1 Corinthians 4:1-5. Reflect
on the implications of being stewards of God in our world.
about the problems of our community - it's families, it's economic situation,
the state of education and so on. What does God want you to do?
do we go from here?
on what our Lord has called us to be and do
forward some ideas to help us as we go
"Father, help us to serve you and our fellow man well."
a bit: How have you been?
have covered a lot of ground, but this is just a beginning. There is much
to learn and to do. A world of need beckons. There are vital books to be
read, issues to be thought through, skills we need, attitudes to change
or develop. But these must not be an end in themselves. Service implies
what we have been through. How has it helped you? What more do you need?
What can you do about it?
can you best serve Jesus in the Church and the world? What are you doing