Step by Step Principles
When a person needs to walk from one place to another he has to do it step by step. When we try to avoid the walking process, we are trying to cheat. If we try to avoid the step-by-step principle in discipleship, we are not only cheating but also loosing valuable exercise, experience and actually missing the point completely. You can not get from one end of a room to the other by avoiding the walking process. This is supposed to be the natural thing to do. If you want to jump, crawl, or get there in any other way you are first being ridiculous and secondly trying to do it unnaturally.
The First STEP
We will now look at a strategy in discipleship that is based on a step-by-step principle:
We can use the acronym STEP by STEP to explain the purposes and functions of discipleship.
1. S for SEEK
We can apply the first letter of our acronym to SEEK. It is interesting to note that Christ made the following statement:
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Mat 6:33
Here we see that Christ compels the church to SEEK the kingdom of God. We will discuss the different aspects of Seek in the next lesson but for now we only need to know that the disciple needs to seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness. This means that the disciples were not supposed to just sit and wait for something to happen. They had to do something.
2. T for TEACH
The second letter is T. We will connect the letter to the word TEACH. Once again we have a scripture that ties in beautifully with the concept of discipleship.
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Mat 28:19-20
Here Jesus is giving the great commandment to His disciples. He firstly tells them to go: then they have to teach all nations. The word that is used for ‘teach’ has the same meaning as ‘making disciples’ and He is actually telling them to ‘disciple’ all nations. It is very important for us to remember that we are not only called to be disciples, but also to make disciples!
3. E for EMPOWER
For the letter E we will use the word ‘empower’. The word does not appear in the King James Version of the Bible but we have the following scripture relating to it:
“And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.” Mat 10:1
Christ empowered His disciples and He also gives us that same power. We do not need to be ashamed of who we are or to be disciples of Christ Jesus. We have authority and power and it is a gift from God. The switch that turns on the light of His power is faith!
4. P for PROGRESS.
We have seen that a disciple needs to seek, teach and also needs to be empowered by God. All these things lead to one thing and that is “progress”. There needs to be progress, not only in the life of the Christian but also in the church as a whole. This progress means that we take over the world – not in the sense that the world sees it, by war or strife, but by faith!
“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” 1 Jo 5:4
We have seen that according to 2 Peter 1:3-10, in our previous lesson, there should be progress: from faith to virtue, virtue to knowledge, knowledge to temperance, etc. until we come to the final destination in the process of charity.
Progress is definitely and important aspect of the Christian faith and discipleship. Progress means that men are converted to children of the light and that those who have seen the light become partakers of the divine nature.
The Second STEP
We can now take the first step in faith. The sad thing is that many have taken this first step before, but they soon get tired and then sit down by the way-side. There needs to be something that keeps us going. As a natural person we need food to keep going. Without food our bodies are weakened and soon we will be powerless, unable to keep on walking. The same laws are present in the spiritual man. We need spiritual food to keep the spiritual man going and growing. It is here that we realize that the first step needs to be followed by another: the second STEP:
5. S for SANCTIFICATION
We read in Romans 12:1 that we need to be present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. This means that there should be a process of cleansing or sanctification. Take a look at the following scripture:
“That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor;” 1 Thess 4:4
Sanctification comes through the Spirit of God. Man can not do anything to sanctify himself except allowing the Spirit of the Lord cleanse him. Sanctification is spiritual fuel. It is the essence of God burning in us. It is the power that moves us.
6. T for TRUTH
Truth is the food we need to grow strong and healthy. All truth is not always God’s truth. When we speak of truth relating to discipleship, we need to understand that we only want God’s truth to be present. If we allow any other teachings or doctrines into the equation we will not get the desired results and the mixture will sooner or later blow up in your face.
God’s Word is the truth. It is the only truth you can build on, it is the only truth that will bring everlasting results
Truth is connected to sanctification as we see in the following passage:
“But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:” 2Th 2:13
7. E for EDIFICATION
There is a great need for edification in the church – we should not only grow outwardly to but the spiritual man needs to grow. This is a very important phase of discipleship. If there is no growth, there will be no progress. We need to grow in different aspects. The Microsoft Encarta dictionary explains edification this way: enlightenment: instruction or enlightenment, especially when it is morally or spiritually uplifting
There needs to be spiritual uplifting in our lives. This happens in various ways. It may be by the preaching of the Word of God, a song or hymn, or by prophecy. In the end it boils down to one thing and that is the gifts of the Spirit of God that operate in the church. We get a kick out of certain things many a time, but if you want a real kick, there needs to be instruction or enlightenment that is spiritually uplifting. When we read the following passage we realize that true edification comes through prophecy – a gift of the Spirit.
“But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.” 1 Co 14:3
8. P for PRAYER
Although we list this as the last part of the STEP-by-STEP principle it is definitely the most important. Without prayer we are NOT disciples. If someone would say he is a disciple of Jesus Christ and never prays – He is bluffing – If we are real disciples, we would be doing what the Master did. We should be in the habit of praying. Without prayer there is no communion with God – prayer is the connection that causes knowledge, truth, revelation, power and life to reach us. Without this connection we are spiritually dead. You will never be able to reach the final destination without prayer. If those that say they are disciples of Jesus Christ would really start praying, there would be real progress as well. God wants us to pray, He wants us to talk to Him, He wants us to build our relationship with Him. You can not say that you love someone and never speak to that person – in the same sense we can not dare to say that we love the Lord if we never pray.
As a summary we will now list the STEP-by-STEP principles again:
I need to remind you that these are not the only principles in personal discipleship. We have to understand that there are many aspects and opinions regarding discipleship. Many teachers will focus on the role of discipleship in evangelism and others will focus on spiritual growth. These are important things in discipleship, and you will grow if you study the works of other authors or teachers. Our aim in applying the STEP-by-STEP principles is not to lay down your spiritual foundation in any given doctrine, or to emphasize a specific aspect or function of discipleship. There are other subjects that deal fully with salvation and the operation of the Holy Spirit, etc. This study is merely a tool to help you develop a lifestyle of Christian living that is suitable for your personality without straying from the principles of the true faith. We will not try to make rigid rules or force you to uphold certain viewpoints, but rather give you freedom to explore the process of discipleship and formulate your own strategy to achieve the ultimate goal: perfect harmony with the Word of God and communion with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
“The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.” Mat 10:24