PDF of Study Guide available HERE

Going to church is not enough.  Agreeing that Jesus lived, died, and resurrected is not enough. Believing in Jesus is not just accepting these as facts. Jesus established a baseline for His Disciples to demonstrate real righteousness and real love. The process He used is called discipleship. Are you a disciple?

Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT) 18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Jesus’ plan, heart, and mission was to make disciples. He did not make converts. He didn’t ask people to repeat a prayer. His aim was not church attendance or the practice of religion. He invited all of us into a life-changing journey with others.

We must be disciples. Disciples trust, follow, and do what Jesus teaches. So what does that mean? What does that look like?

John 2:24 (NLT) But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew all about people.

Jesus Knew That Relationships Are Built On Trust.  Discipleship takes time and commitment. There is no way around it. It is not something we can do alone. Yes, there are critical personal practices but we need help, encouragement, and accountability.

Luke 6:12-13 (16) (NLT) 12 One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night. 13 At daybreak he called together all of his disciples and chose twelve of them to be apostles. 

Jesus Took Disciple making VERY Personally.  Jesus did not mass-produce disciples. They were a product of intimate and personal investment. There were conversations, prayers, ministry, work, fun, and rest. Their focus was upon God. How to know Him? What He wants? How to please Him? And so many other discussions. Discipleship is personal. It’s close. It’s knowing, belonging, and being known. 

Luke 9:23-24 (NLT) 23 Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. 24 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.

Disciples Follow Jesus

Deny Self. This is not what you think it is. This isn’t resisting pizza. Or, living in a constant state of discomfort. Do you remember Peter’s Denial? HE DENIED JESUS. He cursed and swore. “I don’t know the man!” He shouted. Denying yourself is not denying things. It is not denying your worth, feelings, or your thoughts. It’s rejecting your lordship. It means that you realize and accept that you are not Lord. 

Take Up Your Cross.  This isn’t about your hardship in life. Your cross isn’t your cancer, marriage, kids, or finances. When Jesus proclaimed these words what do you think the people imagined? They likely imagined someone who had been condemned. They were beaten and bloodied. They carried their cross member down the busy mains street of the city on their way to their execution. They had no hope in this world. There was nothing left here for them to accomplish or do. Their dreams were dead. Their ambitions and agendas were buried.

Taking up your cross is to abandon your earthly ambitions, and hopes. It is to say, “The God of Me, Lord “Me” is done. He has no hope, no dreams, no agenda.

For Christ’s Sake. You see… Jesus is Lord. His kingdom is better than yours. His kingdom is better for you than yours. 

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose” – Jim Elliot.

It is a risky thing in the world’s eyes. To invest your life in the dreams of Jesus. But in the end, when history is finished. What will be left? Your kingdom? Invest your life, resources, energy, hopes, dreams, and anything else into Christ! Do it for Christ’s sake! And, do it with your church…

Mark 9:50 (NLT) Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? You must have the qualities of salt among yourselves and live in peace with each other.

With Other Disciples

Vulnerability. We must know and be known. We must love and be loved. Our love is filled with self-interest, hooks if you will. We need help getting those hooks straightened. We need those around us who give us no choice but to love. We need others to draw something out of us that would otherwise not have a reason to appear. We need situations to wring the selfishness from our souls.

Truth. We need to LISTEN to God’s Word. Jesus is God’s Word. And, we need each other to process that word. The things Jesus taught us, we filter through our values, experiences, and pain. We need others to help us listen more intently and correctly. We desperately need to learn and obey the truth. 

John 12:24 (NLT) I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.

While Making More Disciples

We Have To Get to “GO”. What God has given us needs to be shared. We need to behave like Jesus and invite others to the things we have experienced. Invite people to your small group or to your church. Jesus was often inviting people on the Journey. We can do the same.

Luke 9:10 (NLT) When the apostles returned, they told Jesus everything they had done.

Just do it. Take action. Help someone else find Jesus. Don’t worry if most aren’t interested. Keep looking for the lost sheep. Notice… God is working. God’s heart for people is wonderful. You don’t have to convince the hardest Atheist. You don’t have to prove God to anyone. You can invite them. 

Would you lay down your life for Jesus’ sake?

  • Read and Discuss Matthew 28:18-20.
  • As a group, define the words Discipleship and Disciple. What do these words mean?
  • What do you think makes for a healthy discipleship relationship?
  • Discuss what it means to deny yourself. What does it mean? What does it NOT mean?
  • How does someone take up their cross? How should a disciple live for Christ if they considered their life as already over?
  • How does someone find their life by losing it?
  • Jesus never claimed that being a disciple would be easy. What makes it hard? Why do so many have the impression that it should be easy?
  • How do we lay down our lives for Jesus’ sake this week? What do we need to do in order to obey Jesus as a result of what we have discussed?