Six Studies Based on Mark
- Study 1 Jesus – Son of God
- Study 2 Jesus – his crucifixion
- Study 3 Jesus – his resurrection
- Study 4 Grace – not works
- Study 5 What is a Christian? 1. Repenting
- Study 6 What is a Christian? 2. Believing
At Grace Bible Church, we are committed to evangelism and are using this program to reach our city. Interested? Contact Us
1. The Commission. Mt. 28:18-20, “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”Daniel 7:13-14, “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son a man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”
The great commission is an allusion to Daniel 7:14. Our Lord is the Son of Man spoken of by Daniel. He possesses the kingdom foretold by the prophet. More particularly, the resurrection and ascension are the basis for his claim to possess all authority. His dominion and kingdom are now advancing by the commissioned disciples as the agents of the kingdom. The explicit claim of Daniel 7:13-14 is that we are, in light of who Christ is, to serve him. Such service implies a reduplication of the nature of his life and the manner in which he inaugurated his kingdom (the cross). The nature of the service is explicitly delineated in the great commission (the how). It is our Lord’s identification with the Daniel passage that is the basis for the command to go and make disciples (matheteuo). In other words, the church has this imperative pressed upon it by the nature and identity of Christ as the fulfillment of Daniel’s night vision of the Son of Man.
From the context of the great commission, discipleship involves the sacrament of baptism (“baptizing them”) and the function of teaching (“teaching them”). Succinctly, the former is an act of renunciation of one’s past loyalties and an initiation into the visible church with an allegiance consistent with one’s new identity. The end state of teaching is observance of Christ’s commandments (See Revelation 1:3, 3:8, 12:17, and 22:9). Therefore, the commission of our Lord involving baptizing and teaching contextually defines the making of disciples. Again, this aspect of the faith is never optional or elective to the believer. A profession of faith in Christ without such observance is entirely specious and is a repudiation of his identity and the mandate to obey him.
“…when Christ hath discipled us, he hath not done with us; he enlists soldiers that he may train them up for his service.” – Matthew Henry, Commentary on Mt. 28:18-20.
2. The Cost. Lk 14:27, 33-35, “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple…So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
The disciple (mathetes) is to bear his own cross which symbolizes shame and sacrifice. He is also to follow Christ. One’s bearing of the cross (carry his own cross) and the following (come after me) of the life of Christ, so marked by the cross, are actions which embrace a reduplication of the life of Christ. Once again, neither of these actions is optional or elective. Specifically, they define what it means to be a Christian. The key is that discipleship is defined contextually as carrying the cross and following Christ. Further, Christianity without this is rejected as the salt metaphor confirms.
The summons to wisdom (vs. 35), “He who has ears to hear, let him hear,” is critical to understanding the mandatory nature of discipleship. The synoptic parallel of Matthew is significant (See Matthew 13:9, 14-16). Matthew alludes to Isaiah 6:9-10 to substantiate the reason that Christ is speaking in parables. The nation of Israel, in the days of Isaiah, had become like the idols they were serving (Psalm 115:4-8). The command of the prophet, therefore, is to execute a judicial hardening on the nation. Likewise, by speaking in parables, Christ, the greater Isaiah, is executing the same judicial function. The wisdom formula to hear is to discern what is happening and to act accordingly by becoming a disciple (See Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29, 3:6, 13, 22). Specifically, we are called upon to forsake any notion of a Christian faith without the suffering and sacrifice involved in discipleship. Conversely, Christianity without discipleship is a counterfeit and a fake. This is the point of the summons to discern. More importantly, to adopt such a position is to incur the loss of the ability to hear and respond. Such was the case of the nation of Israel under the ministries of Isaiah and Christ. This appeal is critical for our own Christian culture because a notion that discipleship is an elective is widely adopted and validated.
Stewart Briscoe, writing about Christianity in America, has said that it is, in large part, innocuous. It tends to be easy, upbeat, convenient, and compatible. It does not require self-sacrifice, discipline, humility, an other worldly outlook, a zeal for souls, a fear as well as a love for God. The faith, Briscoe goes on to say, has been overwhelmed by culture. Briscoe is defining a nominal Christianity that has forsaken the essential nature of the Christian faith; namely, discipleship.
“Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ living and incarnate.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship.
“The Christian landscape is strewn with the wreckage of derelict, half built towers – the ruins of those who began to build and were unable to finish. For thousands of people still ignore Christ’s warning and undertake to follow him without first pausing to reflect on the cost of doing so. The result is the great scandal of Christendom today, so-called ‘nominal Christianity’ …large numbers of people have covered themselves with a decent, but thin, veneer of Christianity. They have allowed themselves to become somewhat involved; enough to be respectable but not enough to be uncomfortable. Their religion is a great, soft cushion. It protects them from the hard unpleasantness of life, while changing its place and shape to suit their convenience.” – John R. W. Stott,Basic Christianity.
“It is vain to shut our eyes to the fact that there is a vast quantity of so-called Christianity nowadays which you cannot declare positively unsound, but which, nevertheless, is not full measure, good weight, and sixteen ounces to the pound. It is a Christianity in which there is undeniably “something about Christ, and something about grace, and something about faith, and something about repentance, and something about holiness”; but it is not the real “thing as it is” in the Bible. Things are out of place, and out of proportion. As old Latimer would have said, it is a kind of “mingle-mangle,” and does no good. It neither exercises influence on daily conduct, nor comforts in life, nor gives peace in death; and those who hold it, often awake too late to find that they have got nothing solid under their feet… In conclusion, let every reader of this paper think seriously, whether his religion costs him anything at present. Very likely it costs you nothing. Very probably it neither costs you trouble, nor time, nor thought, nor care, nor pains, nor reading, nor praying, nor self-denial, nor conflict, nor working, nor labor of any kind. Now mark what I say. Such religion as this will never save your soul. It will never give you peace while you live, nor hope while you die. It will not support you in the day of affliction, nor cheer you in the hour of death. A religion which costs nothing is worth nothing. Awake before it is too late….We are not far from home. IT MAY COST MUCH TO BE A TRUE CHRISTIAN AND A CONSISTENT HOLY MAN; BUT IT PAYS.” – J. C. Ryle, excerpts from Holiness.
3. The Model. From the Old Testament. Prov. 13:20, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Prov. 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” From the New Testament (Paul to Timothy). 1 Tim. 4:12, “…set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” 2 Tim. 2:1-2, 3:10-11 “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also…You, however [unlike Jannes and Jambres, men who opposed truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith], have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me…”
“Walking with the wise – under their instruction, encouragement and example – we shall be wise. Our principles and habits will be fixed, our interest excited, and the resolution formed – “We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” (Zech. 8:23)…The world may allure, the ungodly may mock, the evil heart may consent to their voice. But seek you strength from God, and resolve to walk with the wise…‘The communion of saints’ is an Article in our Creed. But is it practically acknowledged in its high responsibility and Christian privilege? Gladly let us take up the bond of brotherhood. If a brother seems to walk alone, sharpen his iron by godly communication. Walk together in mutual ‘consideration’ of each other’s infirmities, trials and temptations; and mutual ‘provocation’ of each others gifts and graces.” – Charles Bridges, excerpts from Exposition of the Book of Proverbs
4. The Purpose. To mentor the Christian life; to foster accountability; to provide support and encouragement; to enhance godliness and the pursuit of all of the means of grace; to incite mutual love; to stimulate the exercise of spiritual gifts; to promote evangelism; to multiply.
5. The Occasion (One-on-one). Direct-personal: meet at a minimum of once a month for six months; read and discuss some mutually agreed upon curriculum; share personal prayer requests; and commend the same in prayer. Indirect-impersonal (accomplish the same but via the use of telephone or mail).
6. The Curriculum. The course of study is designed after the spiritual life of the disciple. It should be mutually agreed upon, purposeful, and have an explicit end state. Some examples include: the Bible; Holiness by J.C. Ryle; a Christian biography; Redemption Accomplished and Applied by John Murray; Attributes of God by Aurthur Pink; Disciplines of a Godly Man, by Kent Hughes; Disciplines of a Godly Woman; Triumphs of the Heart by Cheryl Ford; The Mystery of Providence by John Flavel;Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan; Thoughts for Young Men by J.C. Ryle; and/or study of a Reformed Confession/Catechism
7. The Invitation. The elders of Grace Bible Church are engaged in this Commission. Our desire is to have one-on-one discipleship relationships permeate our assembly and beyond. Join us in the Great Commission!