While reading Praying by J. I. Packer and Carolyn Nystrom, I was captured by the following statement, It should not surprise us that God’s promises to and purposes for us have more to do with our spiritual development than our physical comfort. The paragraph concludes, But what He primarily has in view for us is a destiny of Christlikeness and where Christlikeness is not being sought He may well withhold some of the benefits to which His promises refer…(p. 167).
An awesome truth to ponder. Failing to keep in mind our destiny in Christ may cause us to miss some withheld benefits to which His promises refer. Many may have heard the story of the believer who was being given a tour of heaven when confronted with a hugh warehouse simply marked Unclaimed Blessings. Upon asking what the building was all about, the response was simply, The building houses all the blessings of God which were never claimed because believers failed to ask. Think on these things and don’t forget God’s destiny intended for all of us who follow His Son.
While teaching at a seminary in Cape Haitian,Haiti, I asked the young seminarians, What will it take to change Haiti? The youngest member of the class responded, When those who profess to be Christian, live like one.
His answer is relevant to all cultures. The goal of discipleship is Christ-likeness. When we DWJWD, do what Jesus would do, the chances are strong that others will see in us something they wish to possess for themselves.
Discipleship is the key to Christlikeness and Christlikeness is the ultimate goal of discipleship. An intentional, systematic approach to discipleship training pays tremendous dividends. The likelihood of changing the world is greatly increased when believers are intentionally discipled.
I recently received an email from a dear brother who, as a participant in our discipling ministry years ago, grew exponentially in his relationship with Christ. He wrote,
“For nearly 13 years, I taught DT classes…and enjoyed every minute of it. Those classes changed my life. I continue to follow Growth Ministries but I find that many of the churches today no longer have any type of discipleship training (other than small groups) to encourage the spiritual growth of their members.”
Let me comment of his comment about “small groups”. Small groups are one of the most essential tools in discipling believers and some churches used them very effectively. However, many of them lack intentionality and systematic content. Groups are often left to study what they please. The goal is more for fellowship and mutual sharing than for instruction. Fellowship and mutual sharing are, likewise, essential to the discipling process but so is exposure to the whole counsel of the Word of God? (Acts 20.27)
Hebrews, alone, re-enforces the reality that discipleship begins with the elementary teachings (6.1) and moves on to the deeper truths of God’s Word; from milk to meat. Intentional discipleship will be systematic teaching both basic disciplines of growth as well as Christian values that greatly affect one’s maturing in Christ.
We’ll continue this discussion in our next post.