Monday, February 17, 2014

Paul's Disciple Making Method Still Works

         The apostle Paul was a disciple-maker. Timothy, Titus, Silas, Epaphraditus and Onesimus are each products of Paul’s disciple-making ministry. The NT record of Paul’s interaction with these men and others give some insight into the art of making a disciple. In Philippians 4:9, Paul gives some insight into the processes of making a disciple. “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Paul was not ashamed to live an exposed life. He knew that even his mistakes could be learning experiences if he handled them in the Spirit.


          Paul makes it clear that he lived his life as an open book for all to read. We have written record of at least some of the methods he utilized in order to produce disciples that worship Jesus. First, Paul imparted instruction. He told the Ephesian elders that he had not shunned to declare unto them the whole counsel of God. Most of the NT letters of Paul’s are his divinely guided instruction to believers. Second, he engaged their senses by proximity and experience. What did Silas, Timothy and Titus learn from Paul by watching him do the work, hearing him teach, penning letters for him and assisting his efforts with their physical presence? Third, Paul engaged readers and listeners in dynamic, emotional and thought provoking ways that served to apply the matter to the heart. Acts 20 is an account of Paul’s final words to the Ephesian elders as they wept over him and his admonitions to them. Paul evoked emotion and was passionate to the point of pushing the hearer to do something with what they had just seen, heard or read. Fourth, history bears record to the effectiveness of Paul’s teaching ministry. The NT gives record to the effectiveness of Timothy, Titus, Barnabas and others that Paul influenced with his teaching. Once these men had accepted the words and applied these things to their hearts the subsequent result was understanding or wisdom to go and do likewise. And last, Paul produced men that walked after him or like him. This is the emphasis of Philippians 4:9. Those that have learned, seen and heard Paul should do the same as Paul. This is the heart of the disciple-maker, Paul wanted those that came after him to grow closer to Christ and reach more for Christ than he ever did or could. We should have the same expectations of our intentional efforts to make disciples. Paul’s method still works. The next few posts will expound a bit more on these five elements of Paul's example.

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