Discipleship Starts with Being a Learner

Discipleship starts with being a learner. A disciple will spend time with their teacher absorbing the lessons that teacher has for them. And it should be no different for disciples of Christ. We need to spend time with him, learning what he has to teach us through his Word and the Holy Spirit.

The Great Commission

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

Matthew 28:19-20a NIV

An integral part of the Great Commission to make disciples is to teach them what Jesus has commanded. The instruction here is for the church to be teaching disciples. But the reverse is also true. Disciples need to be learning. We need to be spending time in Jesus’ teachings, as well as his apostles, learning what he would teach us.

Of course learning is not the end goal. Jesus’ commission to teach is actually a commission to teach obedience to his commands. Learning without follow through is really meaningless learning. Obedience will be the next article in this series on discipleship.

Jesus’ Call to Learn

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:29-30 NIV

A yoke is a wooden beam that is put around the neck and shoulders of oxen to enable them to pull a heavy load. And often it is used to represent a burden that a person, or people, are forced to bear. An example of this is in 1 Kings 12. Rehoboam came before the people to be made king after his father Solomon had died. The people asked for him to lighten the yoke of heavy labor that Solomon had forced them to bear. Rehoboam refused, and as a result most of Israel rebelled against him.

The Pharisees of Jesus’ day also imposed a heavy yoke on the people, although it was not in terms of physical labor or taxation. In Luke 11:46 Jesus accused them of loading the people down with burdens that were impossible to bear. I believe the burdens he referred to here had to do with the Old Testament Law and the traditions and additions that they had added. It was impossible for the common people to follow all of the rules imposed by the Pharisees.

In contrast to that, Jesus calls on the people to take up his yoke. It was a yoke that was easy and light. In contrast to the yoke of the Pharisees that was oppressive, Jesus’ yoke would free them, bringing them into a joyous relationship with God above.

Take up Jesus’ yoke. Learn from him. He is not a harsh teacher. And his teaching is good and uplifting.

The Holy Spirit as Teacher

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

John 14:26 NIV

Jesus is no longer with us in person. But he has sent to us the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit will teach us all things. Including the things that Jesus taught. As disciples, the Holy Spirit is our primary teacher. There are many books we can learn from. And there are human teachers who can guide us as well. But through it all, it is the Holy Spirit who ultimately leads us into the truth.

But the Spirit can be hard to hear. There is a lot of noise in our world. There are many voices loudly proclaiming that they have the truth. The shear number of books available to us today, along with authors and speakers is uncountable. And their noisy proclamations can drown out the voice of the Holy Spirit.

How do you recognize the Spirit’s voice? Jesus said that he would remind us of what Jesus had already taught. If you are hearing a voice that is teaching contrary to what Jesus taught, to what we have in the Bible, then that is not the Holy Spirit.

And if that voice is exalting anything other than Christ, it is not the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will glorify Christ and point us to him. Seek the Holy Spirit’s instruction. Learn to recognize his voice amidst all of the competing voices. And allow him to teach you the truths of God’s word. Both the written word and the incarnate Word.

The Bible as Our Guide

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:14-17 NIV

Paul’s instruction to Timothy was that he continue in what he had learned from Paul and other trusted sources. And the primary source for his education seems to be the Holy Scriptures. Scripture that Timothy had grown up with.

This Scripture that Paul refers to here is not the same as our Bible today. The New Testament was still being written when Paul wrote this. And it is likely that none of it had been produced when TImothy was an infant. But I believe Paul’s words here apply just as much to the canon we recognize today.

Paul says that the Scripture is God-breathed, or inspired. In other words, it is God’s word to us. What we have is what he wanted us to have. Just what form that inspiration took is not really relevant. What is relevant, is that we have the inspired authoritative word of God to teach us and to guide us into the truth.

And that inspired Scripture is intended to teach and train us to becomes mature, fully developed servants of God. I cannot be a faithful disciple of Christ without the Bible. Only by spending time with it can I understand who God is, who I am, what God has done for me, and his purpose for my life.

The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.

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