The Basics of Christian Discipleship
The Pattern of Discipleship: We believe that Christian discipleship is next to the public worship of God the most important business of the church and of every believer’s life. We want believers to grow in grace and the knowledge of Christ, to be conformed to His image, that they might live for His glory and serve their families, friends, and others in Christian love, and that for the advance of Christ’s kingdom in the world.
And therefore we strongly believe in the necessity and value of an educated ministry that is devoted to Scripture, sound doctrine, Biblical discipleship, Christian education, and all things Biblical, Theological, and Historical that help believers grow in the knowledge of God and in conformity to Christ by living a life of practical godliness to the glory of God and the full enjoyment of His saving love.
To that end, we believe that Christian discipleship is built upon a solid foundation of godly worship and the teaching of the word and sound doctrine in the Church, as well as daily worship, reading, and instruction in the home.
You can learn more about our view of discipleship by listening to the many series of sermons that I have preached on the subject; including a series of 80 sermons on Jesus Sermon on the Mount – The Cost of Discipleship; or the series of 150 sermons on Learning Christ and Living for His Glory. This series was designed to be the largest and most extensive treatise on the Christian Life. It is carefully constructed after the pattern of John Calvin’s work and the many Puritan treatises on the Christian life. You may want to listen to the last sermon in the series as it is a summary.
The Cultivating of Discipleship: What then are the most important means or sources of grace to use in order to build a godly Christian life?
1. The Public Worship of God. We believe that the practice of true God-centered, Christ-glorifying, Scripture-driven worship is essential for Christian discipleship and growing in Christ. And therefore we convene public worship on the Lord’s Day every morning and evening for believers to: sing God’s praise, read Scripture together, pray for God’s blessing on His church and people, listen to the preaching of the Word, fellowship together in Christian love, and partake of the Lord’s Supper. There is nothing more important for Christians to grow in grace and the knowledge of Christ but by a life of regular devoted public worship on the Lord’s Day. In most cases, the strength of a believer’s faith, hope, and love in Christ, as well as their personal godliness, is determined by their devotion to God’s worship.
2. The Faithful Preaching of the Gospel. We believe that a faithful preaching ministry on the Lord’s Day (in the morning and the evening) is also an essential foundation for godly Christian discipleship. Most Christians and their families sadly suffer from many spiritual maladies as a result of listening to bad preaching, or not being attentive in listening to godly preaching. Faithful Biblical reaching is the bulwark of the Christian life. Martin Luther rightly said, “Strong Biblical sermons make for strong and godly Christians.” And so we are devoted to strong Biblical preaching that does not compromise the Word of God to the sinful generation that we live in today. We speak the truth in love. But we speak the truth! We moreover provide over 2000 sermons on every subject of Christian doctrine and discipleship from a decidedly Reformed and Puritan conviction. And so every sermon that I preach is designed to strengthen believers in their knowledge of Christ and His word, their love for God, their pursuit fo holiness, their joy and thanksgiving, as well as their assurance of God’s love and favor. It is my great blessing from God to have recently completed two of the largest works on the Christian life/discipleship ever to have been written in the history of the Church. There is the series on Loving God and Knowing that You are Loved by Him (80 sermons that will be published in 2 volumes of 500 pages each). And there is also the series Learning Christ and Living for His Glory (150 sermons that will eventually be published in 4 volumes of 500 pages each). Faithful and godly preaching is that which makes for faithful and godly Christians.
3. The Teaching of the Word of God and sound doctrine. We believe that the teaching of the Bible and sound doctrine are also essential aspects for godly Christian discipleship. And so we read in public worship the Reformed Catechisms (The Shorter, the Larger, and the Heidelberg). In fact, I just finished revising, editing, and enlarging the Heidelberg Catechism. We are reading the Larger Catechism in worship presently. We also teach an advanced level Bible Survey course in Sunday school for the whole family believing a sanctified knowledge of Scripture, the contents of the Old and New Testaments, and the history of redemption should be central to the Christian life. We also provide numerous Bible College and Seminary level classes weekly in every aspect of Christian knowledge. And we also provide full counseling and curriculum for Christian education and home discipleship at every level of age that includes daily Scripture readings for family worship. We moreover strongly believe that the teaching ministry should be done primarily by godly and educated ministers (as theologians to the church) whose daily practice and devotion are to study Scripture and sound doctrine. And therefore we believe it is typically a sign of sin, spiritual ignorance, or a misguided view of leadership in a church for ruling elders to be regularly appointed to teach adult classes in Christian discipleship instead of a faithful pastor-teacher.
4. The Provision of Christian Books: We also provide to all members of the Church, and even some outside the church, a vast number of free resources for their godly instruction in Christ and their Christian discipleship. We do not sell Bibles, books, or sermon materials at all; but give them away when we are able, believing that it is better to give than to receive. We believe moreover that it is profaning God’s name and the sanctuary of God’s worship to sell books, Bibles, or anything at Church, or on the Lord’s Day. This is the reason why in His ministry as the great reformer that Jesus cleansed the temple. To that end over the past 25 years, I have supplied every family in the church with Bibles, Hymnals, Catechisms, Confessions, and many foundational books for their Christian discipleship, and for their family library (including Matthew Henry’s 6 Volume Commentary; John Calvin’s Institutes, and his Instruction in Faith; many of the Banner of Truth Puritan paperbacks; and numerous other books on the Bible, Christian doctrine, Church history, Apologetics, Marriage and the Family, and practical devotion. I also do a whole lot of recommending books to believers of all ages and levels of knowledge, including pastors, Christian leaders, and theological students; as I am familiar with nearly every book written and published in the history of the church, and their use and value.
Our design, and our prayer, for believers, is that they grow in the knowledge of Christ and experience to the fullest measure the riches of God’s truth and love in the enjoyment of His blessing and all to the glory of His name.
*In Luke 11 Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it.”
*In Mt.16 Jesus said, “Unless you deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me, you cannot be My disciple.”
*Acts 20:32 Paul says, “And now brethren, I commend you to the Word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus.”
*In Romans 12:1-2 Paul says, “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
Thoughts on Discipleship
*Matthew Henry said “We must come to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Teacher, and set ourselves to learn of Him; for Christ has erected a great school, and has invited us to be His students. We must enter ourselves, associate with His scholars, and daily attend upon the instructions that He gives us by His Word and Spirit. We must converse with what He says, and have it ready to use upon all occasions, and we must conform to what He did, and follow His steps. Only by doing this will we be blessed and counted His disciples.”
*John Milton said, “The end of all learning is to know God, and out of that knowledge to love and imitate Him.”
*Augustine said, “We trust as we love, and where we love. If we love Christ much, surely then we shall trust Him much and desire to learn from Him.”
*John Calvin said, “There is nothing holier, or better, or safer than to content ourselves with the authority of Jesus Christ and the sufficiency of His Word.”
*Thomas Goodwin said, “Whoever desires to be a disciple of Christ and profit in His school must necessarily be conscious of his own folly and ignorance, that is, he must come free from a conceit of his own wisdom, and be willing to be taught by God in humility.”
*John Owen said, “A true and saving knowledge of Jesus Christ from His word is that alone that illuminates the mind, satisfies the soul, quickens the affections, empowers the will to obedience and sanctifies the heart and life in true holiness.”
*Robert Asty said, “There is both joy in the Lord and joy from the Lord when we trust Him and keep to His word.”
*John Chrysostom said, “Knowing Christ and keeping His word makes us excellent in every way possible; for Christ shines the light of His grace and countenance upon us when we devote our lives to Him.”
Brett Woody, Pastor-Teacher