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Sabbath School

Discipleship: Incomprehension versus Memory

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(Translated by Carlos Enrique Espinosa)

How many times, as we look back on the past, have we heard ourselves say, “Now I understand”? We have all gone through such experiences, not understanding some words and facts at the outset. Given time…sometimes after a long, long time, the experience makes sense, as if we have a revelation.

The Church Judas Built

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The Atheist Manifesto, by French philosopher Michel Onfray, is just one of the half-dozen major atheist books of the last few years.1

Part of his project is the “deconstruction of Christianity,” among other monotheisms, which Onfray faults for the arrogance of “men claiming to be repositories and interpreters of God’s word—the priestly castes”

The Job Description Jesus Gave to His Church

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Before Jesus ascended, he laid out the job description for the Christian Church. John records part of our Lord’s incredibly moving prayer to his Heavenly Father, wherein Jesus said: “As you have sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world” (17:18; see also 20:21).

Obviously, this requires a second reading on our knees. Could he possibly mean what he said?

Experiencing Discipleship

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Follow me
Where I go,
What I do,
And who I know.
Make it part of you to be a part of me.

Older readers will immediately hear the voice of John Denver singing these words, which speak the essence of friendship, of the willingness to join oneself into the life and experience of another. In the upper room, Jesus said to his disciples, “Abide in me, and I in you. No longer do I call you servants, but I call you friends” (John 15:4, 15).

Preparation for Discipleship

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In my freshman year of college, a professor handed us a piece of paper with a two- or three- sentence paragraph and told us to count the number of times a particular letter occurred, for example the letter H. I counted carefully and was confident that there were a total of six, only to be told that there were actually nine.

The Sermon on the Mount

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Early in the Common Era, Jesus left his carpenter bench and walked east to the River Jordan, where John the Baptist was preaching and baptizing repentant sinners. Jesus asked to be baptized.

John, recognizing his cousin, remonstrated, saying: “It is I that should be baptized by you!”

Jesus replied, “Permit it to be so.” John complied.

Ethnicity and Discipleship

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The Antioch story of how we got our name marked a milestone in the growth of Christianity (Acts 11:19). Our spiritual forefathers believed they had been given the task to "tell the message only to the Jews" (v. 19), to people who shared the same sacred text, same history, same diet, and same culture. To do otherwise would threaten their group identity.

Gender and Discipleship

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The original disciples were male—mostly young, mostly without strong family responsibilities. Imagine how women in this culture of highly restricted gender roles would have been viewed had they tried to become members of this group of twelve. Christ’s ministry would have stirred even more suspicion and anger than it already did.

Ten Ways Following Jesus Will Mess Up Your Life

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Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.
— Alison Krause

Within a family of churches whose modern obsession has been adding new people to the church membership rolls, discipleship has taken a back seat to conversion.

Jesus was famously uninterested in adding converts. At the end of three and one-half years of ministry, he had a net gain of eleven disciples.

Called to Discipleship by Jesus

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Today we focus on being called by Jesus Christ. A few key elements will receive special attention.

Called by Jesus.

The call to Christian discipleship is not simply a call from someone who has hit upon a good idea and invites other people to learn about that idea, and who then decides to help promote it. When Jesus calls people to be his disciples, the call deals primarily with attachment to his person.

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