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Discipleship – Spiritual Recovery

Men gathered at picnic

Discipleship is more than telling someone about Jesus or handing out a Bible or Christian literature; it is a personal relationship. And like any relationship, it takes wisdom, patience, knowledge, love, and grace. It takes time and effort for both the mentor and the disciple. Above all, it takes the Holy Spirit working in the disciple, so the disciple’s heart must be turned towards God.

In 1 Thessalonians 2:3-13 Paul presents a model for personal discipleship, depicting himself as a “spiritual parent” caring for spiritual children. His concern for the believers went beyond just teaching them; he was committed to their spiritual welfare and growth. In this passage, he speaks of the four components of discipleship: Caring (or Commitment), Modeling, Individual Attention, and God’s Word.

CommitmentModelingIndividual AttentionGod's Word
1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 … instead we were gentle among you, as a nursing MOTHER nurtures her own children. We cared so much for you that we were pleased to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.

THEY CARED FOR THE BELIEVERS AS A MOTHER CARES FOR HER CHILDREN

Firstly, this has to do with the heart attitude of the discipler (or spiritual parent). There must be a caring commitment from the discipler to the development of the disciple that goes deeper than sharing knowledge. The biblical idea is similar to an “apprentice,” so for the disciple, it requires a deep desire and commitment to want to listen, learn, and practice what he learns and sees modeled.

1 Thessalonians 2:9-10 For you remember our labor and hardship, brothers. Working night and day so that we would not burden any of you, we preached God’s gospel to you. You are witnesses, and so is God, of how devoutly, righteously, and blamelessly we conducted ourselves with you believers.

THEY BECAME “ROLE MODELS” TO THE NEW BELIEVERS

The discipler is a model to the disciple in ways that go beyond that of a teacher and student. Things like patience, faithfulness, and passion are difficult to teach from a book. Character is “caught” more than taught. The ability to see these and other character traits modeled on a daily basis is a vital part of Set Free Christian Fellowship, and it is one of the things that sets it apart from a counseling sessions. Living together as a family allows the disciple to see intimately how the men react to situations calmly, peacefully, and constructively, without the need for addictions.

1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 As you know, like a FATHER with his own children, we encouraged, comforted, and implored EACH ONE of you to walk worthy of God, who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.

THEY GAVE INDIVIDUAL ATTENTION AND INSTRUCTION AS A FATHER

Group classes and activities are very positive and needed, but in recovery, nothing can substitute for individual attention. It is also God’s heart:

  • He crafted each person with a unique personality and particular gifts
  • He longs for a relationship with each person on an one-to-one basis
  • He heals each person in an individually tailored and intimate way

A discipler that is sensitive to God’s work in a disciple can identify the particular needs of the disciple and help them develop. Within the personal setting at Set Free Elma, difficulties can be addressed and the Bible and other materials can stimulate questions and conversation that will foster growth in an impactful and lasting way.

1 Thessalonians 2:13 This is why we constantly thank God, because when you received the message about God that you heard from us, you welcomed it not as a human message, but as it truly is, the message of God, which also works effectively in you believers.

THE WORD OF GOD WAS AN ESSENTIAL COMPONENT OF DISCIPLESHIP

God’s word is the foundational component to discipleship, but not just as academic text. Rather, it is a revelation of His character, His plan, and His work of the gospel as expressed through the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. God wants man to know Him.

And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. John 17:3

John 1:1 says that Jesus Christ is the living, eternal Word. When one reads God’s word in the Bible, he can begin to know God. With the Holy Spirit’s guidance, that knowledge can be applied to daily life, and the leaders and members of Set Free Elma are always right there to help. Guidance from the Holy Spirit will always agree with the Bible, and guidance from Set Free Elma will always be in accordance with Bible.