What Does a Disciple Look Like?
Great commission/Great Commandment Lifestyle
Great Commission = disciple maker
Great Commandment = love God and love others
We are seeking to develop students who are living out the Great Commission and Great Commandment. Practically this would be observed in the life of a student who:
A mature disciple consistently lives by faith and demonstrates fruit.
Proverbs 3:5-6 5Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. 6In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.
Galatians 2:20 20“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
Galatians 5:16-25 16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
Faith and Fruit
Faith is important, because without faith it is impossible to please God.
Hebrews 11:6 6And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
Faith begins with an attitude of the heart that says, “God, I want to please you.” It leads to obedience.
(Romans 6:17 17But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed…)
Faith comes from hearing the word of God.
Romans 10:17 17So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
Faith always has God as the object. The 9/11 terrorists had great faith. But, their faith was in the wrong object, a different God. So, it is not enough to simply have faith in something/higher power/etc.
Faith involves believing and obeying. It is not enough to simply believe because even the demons believe in God (James 2:19). But, faith always involves action (obedience).
James 1:22 22But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.
James 2:17 17Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.
The amount of faith is not important. Not much is needed.
Matthew 17:20 20And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.
True faith will bear fruit as a result of abiding in Christ. The key is to abide w/ Him, to stay connected to Him, filled with His Spirit. Just as a branch that falls off a tree cannot bear fruit any longer, so a Christian who gets disconnected from Christ cannot bear fruits of obedience.
John 15:5 5“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
Galatians 5:22-23 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Ephesians 5:18 18And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,
A mature disciple recognizes the Bible as the only source of truth for thinking and living
Psalm 119:105-112 105Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path. 106I have sworn and I will confirm it, That I will keep Your righteous ordinances. 107I am exceedingly afflicted; Revive me, O Lord, according to Your word. 108O accept the freewill offerings of my mouth, O Lord, And teach me Your ordinances. 109My life is continually in my hand, Yet I do not forget Your law. 110The wicked have laid a snare for me, Yet I have not gone astray from Your precepts. 111I have inherited Your testimonies forever, For they are the joy of my heart. 112I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes Forever, even to the end.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
2 Peter 1:20-21 20But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.)
Live based on knowledge of God’s Word
Students have so many emotions and feelings running their veins. They are mainly driven by their feelings, emotions, and circumstances. In general, they put very little thought into living based on God’s word, largely because they don’t know it. So, a major challenge for student ministry staff is to instill decision making based upon what the students know to be true in God’s Word. Staff needs to get the students into thinking, “What does God’s Word say about this issue, circumstance, relationship, etc rather than what I feel is the right thing to do.”
Decision-making and the Will of God
The will of God is to obey Him.
1 Thessalonians 4:3 3For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality;
1 Samuel 15:22 22Samuel said, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.
Psalm 40:6 6Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired; My ears You have opened; Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required. Psalm 40:8 8I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart.”
How do I make a certain decision?
These guidelines will help:
Ephesians 5:7 7Therefore do not be partakers with them;
Romans 14:21 21It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles.
Romans 14:22 22The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.
2 Corinthians 5:9 9Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.
A mature disciple depends on God through an active prayer life. There are five elements of powerful prayer from Ephesians 6:18 taken from chapter 8 of Disciplines of a Godly Man by R. Kent Hughes:
Ephesians 6:18With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,
1. In-Spirited Prayer
“And pray in the Spirit…”
The indwelling Holy Spirit, through His superior intimate knowledge, both prays for us and joins us in our praying, infusing His prayers into ours so that we “pray in the Spirit.”
Romans 8:26-27 26In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
The Holy Spirit tells us what we ought to pray for. And, as we seek the Spirit’s help, He will speak to us through His Word, which conveys His mind regarding every matter of principle. Further, he shows our hearts which matters to pray for, and gives us the absolute conviction they are God’s will.
By praying in the spirit, the Spirit supplies the energizing power even when we are tired!
2. Continual Prayer
“…on all occasions…”
Paul told the Thessalonians to “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). And, he told the Philippians, “in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (4:6). So is it possible to pray at all times? It is if we have the proper posture of the heart. Brother Lawrence recorded the following in the Practice of the Presence of God, “The time of business does not differ with me from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were on my knees.”
John Wesley modestly explained it in the third person: “His heart is ever lifted up to God at all times and in all places. In this he is never hindered, much less interrupted, by any person or thing. In retirement or company, in leisure, business, or conversation, his heart is ever with the Lord. Whether he lie down or rise up, God is in all his thoughts; he walks with God continually, having the loving eye of his mind still fixed upon Him, and everywhere seeing him that is invisible.”
3. Varied Prayer
“…with all kinds of prayers and requests.”
If we are praying continually, we will be praying about the various situations we encounter. So there will be a variety of different prayers: prayer to resist temptation, prayer for wisdom, for power, for self-restraint, for protection of others, for growth, for conviction.
4. Persistent Prayer
“…with this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying…”
God somehow sovereignly chooses to encourage persistence in prayer and to answer it to His glory. Jesus told this story in Luke 18 to show what He wants from His followers:
Luke 18:1-5 1Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, 2saying, “In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. 3“There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ 4“For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, 5yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’ ”
The cultivation of persistence was a recurring theme in Jesus’ teaching on prayer.
Mark 14:38 38“Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Matthew 7:7 7“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
5. Intercessory Prayer
“…for all the saints…”
There are many worthy prayer requests, but believers should have a large place in our prayers. Satan wants to destroy with witness of believers and thwart God’s work in their lives. Therefore, we should pray on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
However, Jesus also came to seek and save the lost. So, praying for the lost to come to know Him should take up our prayer time as well.
Luke 5:31-32 31And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. 32“I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
HOW TO PRACTICE PRAYER
Here are a few things to consider when encouraging students to pray:
The ACTS prayer model is helpful: It stands for:
Adoration: praise God for who He is
Confession: Confess your sins to God
Thanksgiving: Thank him for your circumstances
Supplication: Submit your requests to Him
Other verses to consider sharing:
Psalm 5:1-3 1Give ear to my words, O Lord, Consider my groaning. 2Heed the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God, For to You I pray. 3In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.
Matthew 6:9-13 9“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. 11‘Give us this day our daily bread. 12‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]’
Philippians 4:6-7 6Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
4. Participates in baptism and communion
A mature disciple worships God by following the ordinances of the church; the two ordinances of the church are not optional. Believers are to be baptized, signifying the new life in Christ. This identifies the believer with Christ, the old self as dead to sin, and now alive to Christ. Baptisms are excellent opportunities for students to communicate their testimony to both believers and non-believers.
Matthew 28:18-20 18And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”;
Acts 8:12 12But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike.
Participating in communion is an excellent opportunity for the believer to examine his or her heart before the Lord. In doing so, believers are remembering Christ’s death on the cross, the penalty for their sin.
1 Corinthians 11:23-31 23For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. 27Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. 28But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. 30For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. 31But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.
5. Is a contributing member of earthly family
A mature disciple is faithful to both parents and siblings.
Sometimes students can be one person outside the home and another inside the home. It is our desire to see consistency inside and outside the home. The home is an excellent opportunity to submit to the Lord by submitting to parents. Our goal is to transfer the authority from mom and dad to God. “Because God says so” is better than “mom and dad say so”. Therefore, our hope is that out of the overflow of their love for the Lord, they will obey mom and dad.
Ephesians 6:1-3 1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), 3so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.
Students also have an excellent opportunity to serve their siblings and be examples to them. Whether or not their siblings are older or younger, students can have powerful impacts upon them. Homes can be transformed by the power of God’s Spirit by the example of one student!
Philippians 2:3-4 3Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
1 Timothy 5:1-2 1Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, 2the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.
6. Serves in the Body of Christ
A mature disciple serves other believers as Christ also served His church.
Students, like anyone else, are selfish at the core. Apart from God’s Spirit, they only care about themselves and won’t desire to serve anyone. And, if they do serve others, it can easily be done with the wrong motive. The challenge is to get them to think outside of themselves and onto others. “It’s not about me” needs to be reinforced and repeated time and again. It was the model of our Lord.
Mark 10:45 45“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Philippians 2:3-4 3Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
John 13:14-15 14“If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15“For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.
Our goal is to communicate how serving benefits the students and the body of Christ. Many times we ask students to serve without communicating the benefits of doing so. Students themselves grow from serving the body. God gave them gifts to use for that very purpose. Our hope is that they might be fulfilled by the power of His Spirit through serving others.
Romans 12:4-10 4For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; 7if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. 9Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;
1 Corinthians 12:7 7But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
Serving benefits the body tremendously. Students often have the time and energy that others don’t. And, students can serve as great examples to the body. Adults sometimes assume that students will be selfish and self-centered. However, adults can be just as self-centered. And, many times, when adults see the faithfulness of students, they are humbled and challenged.
1 Timothy 4:12 12Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.
Serving often requires great sacrifice. Many times the benefits of sacrificing aren’t learned until later in life. But, if we can instill the discipline of hard work and sacrifice now, God’s Spirit may apply the benefits to the students’ lives later.
7. Shares his or her faith
A mature disciple represents Christ in and to the community and world.
Jesus commissioned his disciples to go out and get others who would be just as devoted and radical for His mission as they were. The commission contained only one command, “To Make Disciples.”
Someone becomes a disciple after God has drawn them to Himself in a saving relationship with Him. The goal, after conversion is to build up that new believer so that they share the values and character qualities that we have just mentioned.
But, the disciple-making process begins with telling those who don’t already have a relationship with Him. In order to be in love with Jesus, we need to be in love with his mission to make disciples: namely, to pursue the lost.
Matthew 5:14-16 14“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 28:18-20 18And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Romans 1:14-16 14I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. 16For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. ;
1 Peter 3:15 15but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;
To help simplify the somewhat daunting task of telling other students’ about their faith, we have adopted Sonlife’s CPR strategy: cultivating, planting, and reaping.
Cultivating friendships with lost people is the first step in sharing our faith. We build relationships through the T.L.C. approach: Target: opening our eyes; Listen: open our ears; Care: open our hands.
First, we ask God to open our eyes to our surrounding Targets. Who are those that are lost in our L.O.V.E. path?
Location: peers at or near your immediate family, neighbors, relatives
Occupation: fellow employees, boss, customers
Vacation: teammates, coach, friends w/ same hobbies members of clubs, bands, etc.
Education: classmates, teachers, locker buddy
Second, we ask God to open our ears to Listen to our friends and avoid the intent to just respond. Take a genuine interest and express authentic curiosity about them. Ask questions to see where they are F.R.O.M.
Family: What are the names and information concerning brothers, sisters, moms, and dads? How do they get along? Where are they in the birth order?
Recreation: What do they enjoy doing in their free time?
Occupation: Do they have a job? If not, what kind of job would they like?
Memories: What was the greatest day of their life? What was their most interesting vacation?
Third, we ask God to open our hands and Care for them. Once we have identified our spiritually lost peers and laid down the foundation for a healthy relationship by listening, we want to deepen that friendship by performing act of genuine care and kindness through serving. Ways you could care for a lost friend include:
Helping someone with a school assignment, picking up the garbage at the lunch table, mow the lawn, buy cokes at the lunch table, or writing a note expressing a certain quality they possess.
After cultivating relationships with non-believers, planting is the next step. It involves sharing God’s truth with those friends. For ongoing growth and maturity to happen in our relationship with God and others it demands more than just the cultivating expressions of love. It progresses to speaking the truth in love.
Ephesians 4:15 15but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ
We don’t want to be chameleon Christians, who have love but share no truth. We don’t want to be cactus Christians, who have truth but no love. Rather, we want to be contagious Christians, who have both truth and love.
Five Ways to Plant God’s Truth
1. Whenever God teaches you something, share it with another Christian. Soon, you might find it more natural to share with lost friends.
2. Invite your friend as often as possible to church gatherings, activities, Bible studies, etc. Most people want to see other Christians and it often takes many times hearing the gospel before someone surrenders their life to Jesus.
3. Live out authentic Christianity with your friends. If you sin by losing your temper or lying, confess it to God and ask forgiveness to those hurt or offended.
4. Ask spiritually-focused questions. Questions like “What’s your most important relationship?” “Where do you turn for comfort when you’re lonely”? Do you think it’s possible to have a friendship w/ God?” “Can I pray for you”? What do you think happens to people when they die”?
5. Share your personal testimony.
After cultivating friendships and planting the truth of God’s Word in them, the last step is to reap a response. Reaping is challenging friends to respond to the truth of God’s Word. It is the natural result of cultivating and planting. If we cultivate in love and plant God’s truth, the result will be the challenge and joy of reaping.
When reaping a response to God’s truth, we need to understand the difference between God’s job and our job. Our job is to clearly present the gospel and call people to respond to that message. God’s job is to convict the lost of their sin and convince them of their need for Him. Only God can call the spiritually lost to Himself.
John 16:8 8“And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment;
John 6:44 44“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.
In sharing the gospel, one way to do so is to use Romans 6:23 and describe each word in the verse. Another way is to use the Romans Road. Ephesians 2:1-10 also describes the gospel. Tracts are another good way to present the gospel.
All have sinned: Romans 3:23 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Sin’s penalty: Romans 6:23 23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Christ paid the penalty: Romans 5:8 8But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Surrender to Christ: Romans 10:9-10 9that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
The Gospel: Ephesians 2:1-10 1And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Lastly, when asking for a response, ask questions that cause people to evaluate their spiritual condition.
It is probably not necessary to say this, but I must do so anyway in the event someone thinks this formula is God’s only way of reaching the lost, or the best way. None of these steps need to be followed for God to draw someone to himself. And, this isn’t a magic formula. Ultimately, God could use the rocks to cry out if He wanted to. These are just a tangible way for students to reach their friends and they have been helpful to many.
Topics for Discussion
Letting Christ satisfy You
God’s definition of “needs” may differ from the students. They may feel the need to feel secure through the relationships and circumstances of life. To be free from fear, anxiety, danger, or doubt. To be loved, accepted, affirmed, and respected. To be happy in their circumstances. To have meaning, significance, value and importance. To have a purpose. These desires are wrongly defined as needs. The problem is that students will often do anything to meet those needs. And, the truth is that these desires become idols that are sought for satisfaction instead of seeking God.
1 Samuel 12:20-22 20Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear. You have committed all this evil, yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. 21“You must not turn aside, for then you would go after futile things which can not profit or deliver, because they are futile. 22“For the Lord will not abandon His people on account of His great name, because the Lord has been pleased to make you a people for Himself.
Jeremiah 2:13 13“For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns That can hold no water.
The good news is that God doesn’t define these as needs in Scripture, because He has already granted such things as security, love, significance, purpose, and fulfillment. The believer already possesses them through their relationship with Christ. But, they will only experience the reality of what Christ has already provided through the riches of His grace, as they submit their life to Him.
Ephesians 1:4-5 4just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,
Romans 8:35;38-39 35Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?... 38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
1 John 1:3 3what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.
Psalm 37:4 4Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart.
2 Peter 1:3 3seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
2 Corinthians 9:8 8And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;
Growth Doesn’t Happen Overnight
As mentioned earlier, “The Christian life is not perfection overnight, but progress over a lifetime.” God does not hurry in His development of our Christian life. He is working from and for eternity! Dr. A.H. Strong once commented, “When God wants to make an oak, He takes a hundred years, but when He wants to make a squash, He takes six months.” He also points out that “growth is not a uniform thing in the tree or in the Christian. In some single months there is more growth than in all the year besides. During the rest of the year, however, there is solidification, without which the green timber would be useless. The period of rapid growth, when woody fiber is actually deposited between the bark and the trunk, occupies but four to six weeks in May, June, and July.” George Goodman writes, “Fruit ripens slowly; days of sunshine and days of storm each add their share.”
So, the encouragement to student ministry staff is that God has His own timetable with individual lives. When students are frustrated, this is a great encouragement to them. When you are frustrated, remember the following sentence. Our responsibility remains the same: to be faithful to pour into the students’ lives.
Philippians 1:6 6For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
Every student wants to know, “Does God accept me and on what basis?” And fortunately, we have answers. Through faith in Christ alone, we have peace with God.
Romans 5:1 1Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Just because a student may be conscious of sins, they don’t have to renew their acceptance with God. If they are not walking in the spirit, they are in the flesh. They have turned to the old man which was crucified on the cross
Romans 6:6 6knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; )
Because of their sin, they need to confess (which means simply to agree with God) their sin. They have to be restored to fellowship, but they don’t need to renew their acceptance.
Psalm 51:4 4Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge.
Psalm 51:10 10Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me…12Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit.
Miles Stanford gives some outstanding quotes regarding this topic of acceptance and self-worth.
Main Ingredients for Growth
One of God’s most effective means in the process is failure. Many believers and especially students are simply frantic over the fact of failure in the their lives, and they will go to all lengths in trying to hide it, ignore it, or rationalize about it…“Failure is allowed and often engineered by God in order to turn us completely from ourselves to His source for our life—Christ Jesus, who never fails” (Stanford)
What is God’s main ingredient for growth: need. Need causes us to reach out to Him. The true value of anything is known only when it is wanted. As student ministry leaders, we should ask God to create need in the students and use us to point out that need. “Without spiritual hunger, we cannot feed on the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Stanford)
Matthew 5:6 6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
As student ministry staff, we recognize it is God who will cause the growth in the student. However, just as a seed cannot grow unless it has the right sun and soil conditions, so we must encourage the students to place themselves in atmospheres for growth.
The power of the cross
The believer’s understanding of the two aspects of Calvary gives the key to both spiritual growth and life-giving service. Calvary is the secret of it all. It is what He did there that counts, and what He did becomes a force in the life of a Christian when it becomes a reality. This is the starting point from which all Godly living must begin.
Galatians 3:24 24…”so that we may be justified by faith. “
Christians are not left to deal with the old life (sinful nature) ourselves. It has already been dealt with by Christ on the cross. If a student doesn’t realize this, the best they can do is seek to handle their sins by confession.
1 John 1:9 9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.)
However, this confession is after the damage has been done. It takes care of the penalty of the sin (broken fellowship) but not the source of the sins. When students are sick and tired of spinning year after year in a spiritual squirrel cage—sinning, confessing, and sinning again—they will be ready for God’s answer to the source of sin, which is death to self, brought forth from the completed work of the cross. We need forgiveness for what we have done, but deliverance from what we are.
When we realize that our death to sin occurred in Christ on the cross, we can be delivered. “I must recognize that the enemy within the camp—the flesh, the old nature, self, I, the old Adam, is a usurper. By faith I must count him to be in the place that God put him—crucified with Christ. I must realize that now my life is hid with Christ in God; that He is my life”. (Ian Thomas)
Realizing our old man was crucified with Christ on the cross, the student can take up his cross mentioned in Luke 9 and 14 and begin to die to their self.
Luke 9:23 23And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.
Luke 14:27 27“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
Students will be ready to take up their cross when self becomes intolerable, when they begin to “hate their life” as spoken of in Luke 14:26
Luke 14: 26“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. .
Dying to self is the key to the Christian life.
John 12:24 24“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit..
Mark 8:35 35“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.
We don’t need Christ’s help, we need his life
In sincerity, many students ask for Christ’s help to live the Christian life. There is nothing wrong with this prayer because God knows our hearts and longs to be gracious and compassionate to those that fear Him. However, what the students need is Jesus life to be lived in them!
“In our private prayers and in our public services,” A.W. Tozer writes, “we are forever asking God to do things that He either has already done or cannot do because of our unbelief. We plead for Him to speak when He has already spoken and is at that very moment speaking. We ask Him to come when He is already present and waiting for us to recognize Him. We beg the Holy Spirit to fill us while all the time we are preventing Him by our doubts.”
Philippians 1:21 21For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Philippians 4:13 13I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:19 19And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Sin is not your friend
Most students don’t see sin as that bad or as having horrific consequences. Ultimately, we pray that the fear of the Lord overcomes their desire to sin. However, talking about sin and its negative effects helps the students view decisions as God sees them. Sin is not their friend. It destroys them.
Good to seek the Lord
Contrasting the fact that sin is not their friend is the fact that it is really pleasurable to seek the Lord.
Psalm 34:8 8O taste and see that the Lord is good; How
blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! Psalm 34:10 10The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; But they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing.
Psalm 16:11 11You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
Psalm 31:19 19How great is Your goodness, Which You have stored up for those who fear You, Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You, Before the sons of men!
Assurance of salvation
Can students know for sure they are saved? Yes! How can they know? That is what assurance is all about. Being saved and knowing you are saved are two different things. Being saved is all about God. God is the One who saves us, even while we were His enemies. He is the One who called us out of darkness. He is the One who breathed life into a dead man.
However, knowing you are saved involves some personal participation. Students can only know they are saved if God is at work in their lives. Knowing they are saved is part of sanctification, totally different than salvation.
It’s helpful to note: most of the time students doubt whether or not they are saved is when they are in sin, just after they have sinned, or have been in a period of sin.
The book of 1 John talks a lot about assurance. From it, we can pull out a helpful acronym (LODE) to convey to students so that they can examine their life. By examining their life, they can know for sure if they are saved.
Love God and others
Do you love God?
1 John 5:1 1Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him.
Do you love others?
1 John 2:10 10The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him.
1 John 3:14 14We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.
Do you obey God? And, when you sin, do you confess it to him
1 John 2:3-4 3By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;
1 John 1:8-9 8If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Do you have right doctrine? In other words, is what you believe in agreement with what the Bible says? For example, if you think you are saved because of your good works, your doctrine is not correct.
1 John 4:1-3 1Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.
Have you endured the Christian life over a period of time? Can you look back at your life and see God at work in your life or did you fall off a cliff, so to speak? Are you still following God?
1 John 2:19 19They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.
Forgiveness (from Called to Obedience)
Hebrews 12:15 15See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;
One of the biggest issues facing students is the issue of forgiveness. Many are held hostage in bitterness because they don’t know how to forgive or are unwilling to forgive. Perhaps the reason this issue is so prevalent could be because students are so spiteful, angry, malicious, back-biting, hurtful, etc. Needless to say, EVERY student has amply opportunities to forgive.
The Forgiven Must Forgive
Ephesians 4:30-32 30Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
We need to prepare our students for life. After high school many will leave their parents’ home and begin living on their own for the first time. While in college or the workforce, they need to understand/know basic life skills so that they can function as adults. We’ve identified the following skill that would be helpful for them to know:
Defending the faith
We need to prepare students for the tough questions that they will face in regard to the Christian faith. Although they probably won’t be able to answer all of these questions, they need to have heard the answers so that they can be confident. Minimally, they need to know there are answers to these questions and they can come back to us for the answers when the questions arise.
How does anyone know God exists?
How reliable is the Bible?
How could God allow suffering and evil?
Do science and Bible conflict?
Don’t all religions lead to God?
Is Jesus the only way?
Why become a Christian?
Passages/Books worth covering
OT Heroes: Abraham, Joseph, Joshua, David, Daniel
Ecclesiastes: Everything is meaningless apart from Christ/Satisfaction only in Him
Jonah: God’s mercy on the repentant
Life of Christ: parables/miracles
1 Corinthians 9: Be all things to all people to save some
Philemon: Bondage to brotherhood
2 Peter 1:3-15 and counterfeit Christianity
James: Faith and works
1 John: Assurance
Revelation 20: Reality of Hell