Imitating Jesus: Love, Friendship, and Disciple-Making

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  4. The disciplemaking genius of Jesus – The Cadre Blog
  5. The Disciple’s Mind: Encouragement for Students

In addition, this book is a canonical Christian writing which is and has been normative in the life of the Church throughout time. On one hand, Mark wants to bear witness to Jesus Christ as the one who proclaims the kingdom of God, while challenging his audience to become followers of Christ and experience life anew. However, this invitation to follow Christ is not to be taken lightly. On the contrary, it has its costly implications. It implies self denial, taking up the cross and following.

The catchy thing, so to speak, is that those who have been invited to follow Jesus must respond to the calling, but such response should be done at once. On one hand, it is through His Son that God fully reveals himself to humanity and it is through Jesus that humanity can fully see the Father and therefore, experience not only forgiveness of sins but also fullness of life.

Salvation and transformation are made possible through Jesus Christ; that is to say, an inside out conversion experience happens when one follows Christ. Now, this following of Christ can be seen as a response to an invitation or as a response to a command. I will suggest us seeing it as one unit. Either way, the response rests on oneself and it needs to be understood from the faith-believing and obedience perspectives. Faith-believing and obedience are intrinsically embodied into discipleship and vice versa because the way of Jesus is set forth as the way of Christian life.

This claim is to be accompanied by two additional questions: what do people say of the Christ? And what do you say of the Christ? Being the Messiah meant rejection, suffering, death and resurrection. Confession and following defines our identity.


Who Jesus is and what he does, are intimately connected to who his disciples are and it clarifies what is expected from them. Confessing his name equals to following him on his way. Therefore, one cannot claim to be a follower of Christ and not been obedient to his commands and to his life transforming teachings.

For example, consider the Great Commission is both an invitation and a command. Sadly, nowadays we have mistaken it with the Great Omission. As Church, we need to be reminded that we are a generation of disciples called to make disciples in a holistic way. On one hand, from the Christological confession Jesus wants for his disciples to be silent about his messianic identity.

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Contrary to it, he requires of his disciples to openly share what await for him in Jerusalem. Jesus does not want to be silent about his passion prediction. He will be rejected, he will suffer and killed. Apparently, Peter and his friends did not hear Jesus well, because he also mentioned that after three days of his death, he will rise again. If one is to follow him it has to be under his terms.

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When we encounter Jesus, we meet a man who calls us to come and die Mark And He calls us to follow Him and learn from Him Matthew , The only requirement is that we repent of rebelling against our Creator and cling to Him through faith Mark ; 1 Thessalonians Jesus calls us to come and die so that we might live. Those who follow Jesus by faith are known as His disciples. See, for example, Matthew , ; Mark ; Luke , ; John , Since He is our teacher, we are to learn from Him and strive in the power of the Holy Spirit to become like Him Luke This growth in Christ-likeness is a lifelong endeavor that is fueled by the hopeful expectation that one day we will see Him face to face 1 John As we follow our Lord, we quickly learn that part of imitation is replication.

Having a personal relationship with Jesus is magnificent, but it is incomplete if it ends with us.

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Part of being His follower is to intentionally help others learn from Him and become more like Him. Being a disciple that makes disciples happens in two particular ways. We do this by proclaiming and portraying the gospel in our neighborhood and among the nations Matthew We must never forget that God has placed us in the families, workplaces, and circles of friends that we are in so that we can proclaim the gospel of grace to those who are destined to hell apart from Christ.

We must help people learn how to begin to follow Jesus.

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The second aspect of making disciples is helping other believers grow in Christ-likeness. Jesus has designed his church to be a body 1 Corinthians 12 , a kingdom of citizens and a family who actively build each other up into the fullness of Christ Ephesians ; , We are called to instruct each other about Christ Romans and to imitate others who are following Christ 1 Corinthians , ; 2 Thessalonians , 9. As disciples, we are to intentionally pour into other disciples so they can pour into still others 2 Timothy First, the common goal Jesus seeks to promote among his disciples is 'to testify to the truth'.

Second, Jesus uses influence rather than authority to urge his disciples towards the common goal. Third, the means by which Jesus seeks to influence his disciples is education and personal example. The following three sections correspond to and explain this threefold thesis.

According to John's dualistic outlook, people naturally belong to the darkness, do not know God and are incapable of doing so because they have no access to the divine world ; ; ; , 55; ; The one who knows God perfectly and is intimate with him is the pre-existent Logos who is sent from the world above to the world below to make God known ; ; While many people reject him, those who acknowledge him, that is, believe in him, are brought into a life-giving relationship with God ; In John, 'truth' is shorthand for the reality of God and the world above cf.

In his ministry, Jesus proclaims the divine reality about God and himself in terms of their identity, relationship and mission, and in so doing provides divine life to those who accept his testimony cf. Jesus is both the embodiment and dispenser of truth , 17; He communicates God's words, which contain truth that liberates, cleanses and saves ; ; ; ; All who belong to the truth belong to Jesus because they have heard his voice and accepted his life-giving words ; cf.

Jesus intends to continue this programme through the disciples, that is, they are also to testify to the divine reality. Jesus mentions in that 'the Spirit of truth' will testify regarding him - a testimony in which the disciples will partake In fact, the Spirit prepares and empowers the disciples' testimony by communicating to them the truth that is in Jesus' teaching ; In the wider context, Jesus exhorts his disciples to counter the false accusations of the world with their Spirit-empowered testimony to the truth.

Besides this oral testimony, John's gospel itself claims to be a written testimony to the truth ; ; cf. The disciples' testimony to the truth, then, is modelled on Jesus' testimony to the divine reality. Having gained a basic understanding of Jesus' programme, I will now turn to the issues of authority and influence in relation to Jesus' programme.

Jesus' Authority and Influence. There are several indications in John's gospel that the source of Jesus' authority is God the Father. First, Jesus is God's authorised agent on earth, sent into the world to make him known ; , ; ; ; Second, the Father has given Jesus the Spirit to speak on his behalf Third, the Father instructs Jesus.

On various occasions, Jesus asserts that he cannot do anything by himself but only speaks and does what he hears and sees from the Father ; , 28, 38; ; ; ; Sixth, Jesus' intimate unity with the Father is an authoritative position from which he operates and to which he often appeals ; , 30; In sum, Jesus is sent by the Father to do the Father's work under the Father's directive by means of the Spirit.

The disciplemaking genius of Jesus – The Cadre Blog

Jesus' authority is thus rooted in the Father and his personal experience of him. We find several expressions of Jesus' authority in John's gospel.

What is a Disciple

In addition, Jesus' 'I am' sayings are his self-disclosures to people and probably an allusion to Exodus , which describes God's self-revelation to Moses. In fact, the Johannine 'I am' sayings do not merely show Jesus' understanding of himself in relation to God - Jesus is on a par with God himself - but, through the accompanying predicates, reveal how the divine operates among humanity.

Jesus' authority also becomes apparent in his being the locus of God's presence and activity, that is, God is at work in the world through Jesus.

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He is God's special agent of revelation and claims to act on God's behalf cf. On another occasion, Jesus asserts that his words are 'Spirit and life' Jesus' command to the dead Lazarus demonstrates his authority to give life to whomever he wishes Jesus' authority was questioned by the Jewish authorities because they found many of his claims and teachings outrageous ; , 52; , ; ; Not surprisingly, the Jewish authorities questioned Jesus again about his teaching during his trial The term 'influence' in the sense of the capacity to have an effect on someone or something does not correspond to a particular Greek term in John's gospel nor the rest of the NT.

Even as a concept it is difficult to find a Greek equivalent. Besides, I shall not seek to determine how influential Jesus was or which groups of people he was able to influence. Rather, my focus is on Jesus' influence on his twelve disciples. Drawing on a Johannine idea , such as wind, influence is 'invisible' and just as one perceives the direction of the wind through its effects, so one can observe Jesus' effect on his followers through their reactions.

The following list of examples which is not exhaustive shows Jesus' ability to influence his disciples:. Two disciples of John the Baptist decided to leave their master and remain with their new master Jesus, perhaps because they learnt that he was the Messiah Philip accepts the invitation to follow Jesus and learns that Jesus might be the expected prophet-like-Moses arguably because Jesus taught him Jesus' revelatory knowledge of Nathanael's whereabouts causes Nathanael to profess Jesus as the messianic king When a large group of disciples find Jesus' teaching too difficult to take in, they defect.

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However, Peter affirms, on behalf of the Twelve, that they will remain with Jesus because they have experienced his life-giving teaching. Although their proposal is premature, their intentions appear sincere and allude to the highest expression of love Such a noble gesture is naturally the result of the effect Jesus has had on them. While the disciples often fail to understand Jesus during his ministry, they remember and understand Jesus' teaching after Easter ; Authority and Influence in the Ancient Family.

The Disciple’s Mind: Encouragement for Students

Jesus' authority and influence must be set within the context of the divine family and ancient families because 'family' is a pertinent theological category in John. This nuclear family is extended to include other 'children', namely those who pledge allegiance to Jesus But John's concept of the divine family also resembles human families in antiquity.

Not surprisingly, then, Jesus brokers or mediates the various family values mentioned above: i procreation: belief in Jesus enables people to become 'children of God' ; ii nurture: Jesus provides true food and drink ; , 55 ; iii affection: Jesus asserts his love for his disciples ; ; iv education: Jesus teaches his disciples about the divine programme see further the section 'Education' ; v example: Jesus sets personal examples regarding appropriate 'family behaviour' see further the section 'Personal Example'.

Friends also occupied influential positions within the ancient Graeco-Roman household or family. In a recent study, Martin Culy elucidates that, in contrast to political and patronclient friendships, private friendships in Graeco-Roman antiquity are characterised by unity, mutuality and equality. Both Jan van der Watt and Martin Culy acknowledge that there is significant overlap between familial and friendship language in John's gospel, but where Van der Watt views friendship as a subset of family friends as part of the extended family , 19 Culy contends that friendship language narrows rather than broadens the circle of intimacy.