In the Great Commission Jesus told His disciples that all authority had been given to Him in Heaven and on Earth. Therefore, they were to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that Jesus had commanded them (Matt 28:18-20). This command has direct application to us today because we are at the end of a long line of people who have been taught the Gospel and taught to obey all that Jesus commands.
To help us initially make disciples we have tools like the Personal Bible Study Series that can help equip us for this task. However, once we have baptized someone how do we go about teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded?
As we strive to answer that question it would help to have an organized way to lay a strong foundation of teaching and action (John 14:15; Tit 2:14). These series of posts on Practical Discipleship are designed to help you lay that foundation. The lessons are based around an old yet effective illustration, The Discipleship Wheel.
In this post I just want to introduce you to the idea of The Discipleship Wheel. In later posts I will elaborate on each of the components and provide lessons that you can download to use personally or with a new disciple of Christ.
When looking at a wheel it is pretty clear that in order for it to function properly it must have at least 3 parts; a hub, spokes and a tire. Similarly, there are certain things that a disciple of Christ must have in his life.
Let me show you.
The Hub: The Lord (Phil 2:9-11)
The hub of a wheel delivers power and direction to the tire. It tells the tire when to go forward, when to go backwards and when to turn right or left. Without the hub the tire would be useless. In fact, the spokes and the tire exist to serve the purpose of the hub.
The Lord is the hub of the Christian’s life. He is the one that gives him direction in his life and the power to live accordingly. In fact, Christians and the church exist to serve the purposes of Christ, their Lord.
For a Christian to function properly he or she must follow their Lord and allow Him to empower them through the spokes.
The Tire: The Obedient Christian in Action (John 14:15; 15:8;
Titus 2:14; 3:1,8,14)
The purpose of the tire is to fulfill the commands of the hub. When the hub says go forward the tire obeys and carries the hub (and the rest of the vehicle) forward. While it is the hub that gives direction and power, it is the tire that actually makes contact with the road. If the tire is bad the hub’s commands may not be followed well.
For example, the hub may be delivering all the power and direction a tire needs but if the tire is bald and the road is icy the tire may not perform very well. A properly maintained tire always performs the best.
In this illustration the Christian is the tire. Christians are the ones that make contact with the world. When the Bible tells us that Jesus wants the widows and orphans taken care of it gives us the direction that we need. When God provides us with jobs to earn a living and homes to live in He has provided us with the resources we need to fulfill His command. It is the same with evangelism. The Lord gives us the command (Matt 28:18-20), the power of human communication and we make contact with the world, telling them about Jesus. It is really that simple. It may not be easy, but it is that simple.
In order for the tire to receive direction and power from the hub it must be attached to it in some way. In our illustration it is by four spokes.
- The Word
The two vertical spokes, The Word and Prayer, have to do with our vertical relationship with God. The two horizontal spokes, Fellowship and Evangelism, have to do with our horizontal relationships with each other and the world.
These four spokes make up four fundamental areas of a disciples life.
It is my conviction that the sooner we can train young Christians in these areas the more fruitful their lives will be.
Spoke 1: The Word (John 8:31; 1 Tim 3:16-17)
The Word is a fundamental aspect of a disciples life because it is God’s communication to him. The Word gives us the commands we must follow. It can also embolden us and empower us to act as we should.
Paul wrote, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17). Without knowing the Scriptures we can’t know what God wants us to do nor be equipped to do it.
The Word of God gives us power and direction.
Spoke 2: Prayer (Phil 4:6-7)
If the Bible is God’s communication to us, prayer is our communication to Him.
When the rubber meets the road and we are having a hard time obeying our Lord, we can talk to Him about it.
Let me illustrate. What happens to a tire that is over loaded? It has poor handling, right? It has slow responsiveness, poor breaking, poor acceleration, low gas millage and the tire could blowout.
What happens to our spiritual life and our activity for the Lord when we are over loaded with the cares of the world? We too have poor handling; we are slow to respond to the Word, slow to turn from sin, have low endurance and are in danger of burn out.
One of the blessings of prayer is that it allows us to unload our burdens on the Lord so we can perform better for Him. If we can give our burdens to Jesus we will be more likely to joyfully perform better for Him, “when the rubber meets the road.”
Spoke 3: Fellowship with Other Christians (John 13:34-35)
Fellowship is a fundamental aspect of being a disciple because God created us to need community. We need the encouragement, advice and building up by our brethren we receive when we fellowship with them (1 Thes 5:11, Heb 3:13; 10:24,25).
Christian fellowship also provides us with many opportunities to serve one another and in effect serve Jesus Himself (Matt 25:40).
Fellowship helps strengthen us to lovingly and obediently obey our Lord, “when the rubber meets the road.”
Spoke 4: Evangelism (Matt 28:19-20)
Evangelism is a fundamental part of being a disciple because we are to become like our Teacher (Luke 6:40), who came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10) and told His disciples the do the same thing (Matt 28:18-20). If we are Christ like we are disciple makers.
There is also a very pragmatic reason that evangelism is a fundamental aspect of being a disciple. Without evangelism the whole enterprise stops. We must make new disciples to replace ourselves at a bare minimum. But, Jesus doesn’t just want us to replace ourselves He wants us to multiply ourselves.