Lessons of Discipleship Session 1

In Acts 8, we find valuable lessons on discipleship, and how a disciple must always be prepared, trained, and willing to be active and mobilized to serve the Kingdom of God. In this Scripture, we find the account of Christ being preached to an Ethiopian.

So we read: “26 Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert.” Here, God through an angel gives a command to the disciple. He needs to ARISE and GO. When Jesus called His disciples, He told them to follow Him. They needed to leave behind their old life, arise therefore from their former ways, and GO in pursuit of becoming fishers of men. As disciples of God, we are called to FOLLOW Jesus and GO into the world, to thus fulfill the Great Commission. After all, it says clearly in Matthew 24 when it comes to our mandate to GO, therefore take action. In Philip, we find a disciple who was definitely following Jesus, for the angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, and so Philip was now prompted to GO to be active and mobilized in pursuit of the Kingdom.

It says in “Isaiah 60: 1 Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. 2 For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; But the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. 3 The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. ” This Scripture deals directly with God’s final and great plans for Jerusalem, primarily to be a blessing actually unto the world. They will indeed become that great blessing when the Lord arises over them, which will happen in God’s ordained time.

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Similarly, when we come to God and we choose to follow Him as our Lord and Saviour, then indeed the Lord arises over us. For the light of the world – Jesus – comes upon His followers. And for purpose? For the followers to arise – thus to go and to shine the light of God. As spoken in Isaiah 60, such darkness has already covered the earth and deep darkness the people. These are the days and times of Noah, for the world is filled with violence. As children of God, we are called to ARISE from our spiritual slumber and apathy and walk in God’s glory. It says in “Matthew 5: 14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Also, take note that Phillip obeyed the Lord. Even though an angel spoke to him, it reminds us that we must always be willing to listen closely to God, which means we need to know the voice of the Lord. It says in John 10: 1 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”

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A disciple of God surely cannot ARISE and GO unless He knows the voice of God, for the voice of God leads the disciple in the way of the Kingdom. Jesus is the Way, Truth, and Life, but we can only know such truth, such life, and the way if we follow Jesus, thus know His voice. For we are living in a world of many different voices, including the devil’s, so we need to make sure, thus discern, what is God’s voice and what is our own, or the world’s or the devil’s. For this is vital to remain in God’s will, for in His will there is life and hope. Samuel was called as a boy by God, yet he didn’t know the voice of God. Just so, as disciples, we must be able to discern the voice but also teach others to know God and thus to know the voice of the Lord.

We also read “and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” God is never vague. God always provides clear and detailed instructions. We, however, need to know God to know His will and instructions. God gave clear instructions to Noah to build the Ark, and to Moses to build the Tabernacle, and to Solomon the Temple. Jesus also gave us clear instructions on how to establish the Kingdom of God here on earth, primarily by fulfilling the Great Commission, which focuses on true discipleship. For to follow God’s instructions is to follow His Will, and we must seek for such will to be done on earth as it is heaven.

We then read: “27 So he arose and went.” Yes, Philip obeyed! He did not question God. He did not wait for hours or days for confirmation. He arose and moved because he knew the voice of God. Yes, he did not even pray over it. For sure obedience is greater than sacrifice. Philip did not hesitate, yet we are living in a world where the church suffers from great spiritual apathy and passivity instead of arising and moving as God commands. Jonah was told to arise and go to Nineveh, yet he disobeyed and got swallowed by the whale. Just believe and just obey!

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It says: “ And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury and had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.” Philip found the eunuch because he obeyed God and he moved as God commanded. Yes, the Ethiopian was definitely ready to hear the Gospel, but God needed a servant to go and declare the liberating news of the Kingdom. The angel of the Lord gave Philip the initial instructions, and then Philip was further instructed by the Spirit of God. How vital is not for the believer to be led by the Spirit of God! It says in “John 3: 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Philip was indeed about to see the manifestation of the Kingdom of God with God touching the life of this eunuch!

In Acts 1 it says “8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Glory to God. Philip knew the Spirit of God for he recognized when the Spirit moved and led him. And so, submitting and yielding to the Spirit, we find that Philip was empowered to be a witness of the Kingdom. He may not have traveled far as a witness, but he was witnessing to a man who had traveled far, so the Power on High – the Spirit – was about to empower Philip to be a witness unto a man who will take the Gospel to distant shores. Yes, just believe and trust God. Always yield, always trust for God shall indeed use His servants mightily.

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Philip was again prompted into action. He had to overtake the chariot. This was a matter of urgency. There was no time to debate, or pray, or contemplate! Yes Philip, run and overtake! Disciples of God have a call of action – to fulfill the Great Commission. Yes, so many times we are sitting instead of rising, and we are not moving forward or overtaking what God has assigned or mandated for us to accomplish. Philip had to simply do as God commanded, for what God commands shall be. We read: “30 So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 The place in the Scripture which he read was this: “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He opened not His mouth. 33 In His humiliation His justice was taken away, and who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.”

Let us focus on what the eunuch said: “How can I unless someone guides me?” Let us take note and be fully aware that according to the Great Commission as disciples of God we are to make disciples, therefore a process of guiding, mentoring, and sharing the Word of God. It also says in “Ephesians 4: 1 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” God gave certain abilities to certain people for the purpose of equipping, empowering, and training disciples in the fullness of God and the fullness of the Word. For what reason? Yes, to do the work of the Lord, thus making disciples, evangelize, and fulfill the Great Commission. Thus appointed men and women of God to guide, to mentor, and to lead for the purpose so that disciples are thus equipped and empowered to guide others to God and then trained in the Word of God.

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It also says in “John 16: 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.” The world is desperately in need of God’s Truth, and the disciples of God are the ones to share and instruct in such Truth. This is a process of evangelizing and discipling, which is only possible when we are first and foremost led by the Spirit of God who leads us in all truth and who takes what is from Jesus and declares it unto us. So we can only effectively share the Gospel with the world – thus Jesus – by knowing Jesus and His Kingdom. And this only happens when we are reborn, filled by the Spirit, and led by the Spirit of God. Such is the way and nature of a true disciple.

It says in “Luke 6:40: A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.” This is proper and true discipleship! Not to conform anyone to follow our doctrine or our ideas, but to become like Jesus. And discipleship is training, and we are called as disciples to be perfectly trained and to perfect train others for us to be like Jesus “till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4)

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Riaan Engelbrecht

Session 2

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