How extensive is your knowledge of God’s word? How deep is your understanding of it? Where do you go to increase that knowledge or to deepen that understanding?
Do you depend on church services for your exposure to God and His word? Are your pastor’s sermons enough for you to come to a real knowledge and understanding? I have nothing against church services, and nothing per se against sermons.
I’ve been in many such services where the Holy Spirit moved and made the experience wonderful, but those experiences would represent a small percentage of all the services I’ve attended. I’ve heard a number of good sermons through the years, but I can only recall a handful where I learned a truly important spiritual truth.
Large gatherings certainly have a place in Christianity. Who can even guess how many people have become Christians and either are or will be in heaven because of the meetings people like Billy Graham and James Robison have held around the world? God uses such evangelists in powerful ways to spread the Gospel and get people saved, but once they are saved, the lifelong process of Christian growth and being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ begins, and the evangelists aren’t there to lead them on this journey.
Chapter 28, verses 18-20 of the book of Matthew, Jesus addresses His remaining eleven disciples as follows:
“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
This passage is commonly referred to as The Great Commission. It’s Jesus’s final instructions to His disciples about spreading the Gospel.
It’s worthy of note that although Jesus spoke to multitudes of thousands during His ministry, He gave these instructions to eleven men. Of all the hordes who heard Him speak, very few gained any grasp of the gospel. It was his disciples—and more particularly Peter, James, and John—to whom He gave deeper understandings of what He had to say.
Jesus’s preaching to the masses would be somewhat similar to today’s church services. It exposed a lot of people to Him and His word, but it didn’t actually TEACH them very broadly or deeply.
His private sessions with His twelve disciples would be somewhat analogous to today’s Sunday School classes or home fellowships. More pointed messages that gave the hearers broader exposure and deeper understanding of His word.
The time and energy He spent with the three who made up His inner circle would parallel the concept of discipling in today’s world. It’s only the expenditure of large amounts of time and energy over long periods of time that allow us to give—or receive—in depth knowledge and understanding of His word.
A few years after I became a Christian, I was fortunate to have a friend take me under his wing and disciple me. The process lasted well over 20 years until his death, and he told me numerous times that he got as much out of our discipling sessions and I did.
Some 14 or 15 years after this man started discipling me, I began discipling an old friend. We’ve be going for nearly 17 years now, and I can tell you that I’ve gotten just as much, and probably learned as much, out of this relationship as he has.
To me, this is where knowledge and understanding of God’s work is spread. One Christian taking on one or two others and discipling them. It’s a grave responsibility, but a rewarding one which combines the teaching/learning experience with intimate fellowship.
Where do you get your fellowship and learning? Church services? Sunday School classes or home fellowships? One-on-one or one-on-two discipling?
If you abide in Me and My word abides in you, then you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.
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