Marks of a Disciple
Session 1: Repentant Life
Session 1 First Thoughts
When you have a child, each year of their lives they have a physical and a doctor examines them to ensure they’re hitting certain milestones. This kind of evaluation is normal and healthy. Marks of a Disciple is all about identifying six marks or measurements of our faith so we can know if we’re progressing in our faith. We’re going to start this session with the first mark: a repentant life.
Most of the time when we hear the word repentance, we are conditioned to think about the initial moment of repentance when we begin following Jesus. Growing Christians live a life of repentance. It’s not a milestone you reach or a destination that you accomplish and check off your list. Growing Christians are repentant Christians.
Session 1 Video Clip and Recap
Read Romans 2:4
Dean defined repentance as, “a response to the goodness, kindness, and grace of God in our lives.” However, there are two lies that keep us from embracing a life of repentance. The first is the false belief that we gain more by disobeying God than by obeying Him. The second lie tells us that we have to go around God for the things we want in life. Both of these lies keep us from experiencing the grace of God found in repentance.
Repentance is not God calling you to a list of rules; He’s calling you to Himself. He’s inviting you to His kindness, patience, and restraint. He’s inviting you to enter into a relationship with Him. When we think about repentance this way it becomes an invitation to experience God’s character.
Session 1 Further Study
Read Ephesians 2:4-9
God will judge sin, but He also shows us kindness, restraint, and patience. He demonstrates His kindness by encouraging us to come to Him, He shows restraint when He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, and He shows patience as we experience failures. God walks with us, loves us, and He calls us His sons and His daughters. Now God’s grace toward us is a defining feature of our lives.
For the disciple, repentance and faith in Jesus are inextricably connected. To repent of your sins is to trust in Jesus. They are unified actions. The Books of Ephesians tells us repentance is given to us so that God “might display the immeasurable riches of his grace through his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (v. 7). Paul used the same word for kindness in Ephesians 2:7 and Romans 2:4. God’s kindness should change us and lead us into a growing relationship with Jesus.
Think about how your life has been changed because of God’s mercy. Are you truly living a repentant life?
Session 1 Overall Thoughts
What is one thought from session 1 Marks of a Disciple that you would like to share.
Session 2: Healthy Habits
Session 2 First Thoughts
Last session we talked about how living a repentant life is an important marker of our spiritual health. Let’s begin by reflecting back on what we learned. If repentance is the foundation for the Christian life, healthy habits provide the support and structure for a Christian life. We learn the importance of habits early on. While we’re no longer dependent upon others to set our habits for us, our habits continue to shape and inform the way we spend our time and the choices we make. This session is all about how healthy spiritual habits are a marker for spiritual health.
In this session, Dean Inserra teaches about the importance of spiritual habits in the Christian life. Healthy habits, or spiritual disciplines, are the practices God has given us to grow our faith. Habits continue to shape and inform the way we spend our time and the choices we make. Growing faith is supported, at every stage, by healthy habits.
Session 2 Video Clip and Recap
Read 2 Peter 3:18
Dean taught God has given us three channels of grace—His voice (Scriptures), His ear (prayer), and His body (the local church)—to grow as a Christian. We utilize these channels by pursuing healthy spiritual habits.
The central premise James Clear’s best-selling book, Atomic Habits, is that the habits we embrace form the kind of person we become. According to Clear: “Habits are the small decisions you make and actions you perform every day. ” While we are more than the sum of our habits, Clear has a point. A person who exercises regularly is generally healthier than someone who doesn’t. Students who devote time to study tend to have better GPAs than their peers. Christians of every age and every demographic are designed by God to grow in their faith. Healthy habits, or spiritual disciplines, are the practices God has given us to grow our faith.
Session 2 Further Study
The last words in Peter’s second letter to the church were a command to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus. We can learn several important truths from this short verse. First, notice what we’re called to—grace. Grace by definition is unmerited favor, it’s something we receive from God and is independent from anything we have in ourselves. Earlier in 2 Peter, he wrote that God “has given us everything required for life and godliness” (1:3). Unlike other habits, our growth in grace doesn’t happen by our own effort, but by God’s power.
Second, Christian growth is continual. In the original language of the New Testament, the word “grow” is an active imperative. In other words, it’s an action that’s meant to be ongoing in the life of a Christian. Unlike a fad diet meant to produce specific results over a period of time, spiritual disciplines are habits for life given to us to help us know God.
Lastly, the object of spiritual habits is God. Peter ends the verse we’re examining—and a letter about Christian growth—with praise to God. We cultivate healthy habits, because God is worthy to be known. The growth process is governed by grace, but requires our effort. Hosea said, “Let’s strive to know the Lord” (6:3). Paul urged us to “train” ourselves “in godliness” (1 Tim. 4:7). Remember the goal is to grow in your faith, not to feel less guilty. Our habits have an object—Jesus. All spiritual habits help us know and enjoy Jesus more.
Session 2 Overall Thoughts
What is one thought from Session 2 Marks of a Disciple that you would like to share.
Session 3: Eternally Minded
Session 3 First Thoughts
Last session we talked about cultivating healthy spiritual habits. However, talking about healthy habits isn’t enough, we must incorporate them into the rhythms of our lives. Spiritual habits increase our dependency on God and give us a greater vision for who He is. As our view of God grows, we will begin to naturally desire what He wants and live in accordance with His will (Ps. 37:4). This is the essence of what it means to be eternally minded—our next mark of a disciple.
In this session, Dean teaches what it means to be eternally minded. Being eternally minded means that our primary concern is Christ and His coming kingdom. While we shouldn’t remove ourselves from the world, we don’t want to resemble the world either. Rather, we remember our citizenship in heaven and see all of life on earth through that lens.
Session 3 Video Clip and Recap
Read Philippians 3:18-20
Christians know that we don’t have an enduring city here. Now, it’s easy for Christians to nod and agree with that. It’s a lot different to live that out. Our tendency is to want to make everything about here and now—how we feel, what we want, what others think, our status, our progression.
Believers aren’t called to pull away from the world and hunker down in a holy huddle. We’re exiles, but we’re living among people. Instead of removing us from the world, God has left us here to be a redemptive presence in our communities so that people will see our good works and glorify God.
Session 3 Further Study
Read Colossians 3:1-4
To be raised with Christ means that our life and our identity are hidden with Him. We’re secure in Him. We’ve been united with Him, and adopted into God’s family. Because of our identity with Jesus, Paul tells us to “seek the things above” or in other words, “be heavenly minded.” But why? Paul continues, “For you died,” and that’s what happens when we believe in Jesus. We die to who we used to be and the entire focus of our life shifts to who Christ wants for us to be. We’ve been forgiven of our sins. Now Jesus is the One who leads us.
Because we’re forgetful, we need to be reminded often that our hope is not in this world, but in heaven with Christ. We remember this hope through the Holy Spirit. We can only be eternally minded with His help. As we rely on the Spirit’s help, we become more confident in our place as citizens of heaven and accept our identity as a people chosen and loved by God.
Session 3 Overall Thoughts
What is one thought from Session 3 Marks of a Disciple that you would like to share.
Session 4: Generous Living
Session 4 First Thoughts
Last session we talked about how to be eternally minded and live as citizens of heaven. Being eternally minded encompasses all of life, including our finances which we’ll talk about today.
Being eternally minded is all about having our hearts in the right place. According to Jesus, one of the best ways to know where our hearts are is by how we spend our money (Matt. 6:21). Because our hearts matter to God and should matter to us, one of the ways we can measure Christian growth is through generosity.
Read Matthew 6:19-21
Session 4 Video Clip and Recap
One of the ways God evaluates our hearts is by what we do with our resources. Disciples who are growing in their faith should be people of increasing generosity. We cannot serve God and money. Generosity allows us to keep our hearts in check. In this session, Dean Inserra shows how the Christian life should be marked by generosity.
In this teaching, Jesus gives straightforward wisdom that should be easy for all of us to pick up. Jesus points out the temporary nature of possessions. Everything we own can be taken in an instant. By contrast, our treasures in heaven, the investment we make in the mission of God will never fade. So that leaves all of us with a choice: are we going to invest in the here and now or are we going to set our hearts and minds to eternity and invest in what can never be taken away.
Session 4 Further Study
The Bible never calls to feel guilty for having an abundance. How much we make is never the issue, rather it’s how much we give. To “excel” in giving means to leverage your resources for the kingdom of God. When we ask “How much do I give?,” we’re still not asking the right questions. Don’t think abstractly about it. “This is how much we owe God this year.” Don’t think that way. Rather, think about it in this manner. using the following questions. How is God using my resources to do a work in me? How is God using my resources to do a work for others?
Like everything else in the kingdom of God, our generosity should show our love for God and love for others. That’s the heart aspect of it. However, for generosity to be a spiritual discipline, it needs to be planned to be done well. This begins with a tithe (giving 10 percent of your gross income to your church), and it extends beyond ten percent in love of God and others.
Session 4 Overall Thoughts
What is one thought from Session 4 Marks of a Disciple that you would like to share.
Session 5 Theologically Sound
Session 5 First Thoughts
Last session we thought about what it means to be generous stewards of all that God has entrusted to us. This session we’re going to focus on our desire to know God and live in accordance with our beliefs.
Studying theology is not just something pastors and people in seminary do, it’s something all of us do as we think about God and live according to our beliefs about God. In this session, Dean Inserra teaches that a growing disciple will always be increasing in their love for and knowledge of God.
Session 5 Video Clip and Recap
Read Hebrews 1:1-2
Theology is important because it unites the church around the truth of God’s Word. Being theologically sound doesn’t mean we have all the information we need to ace Bible trivia, but rather that we know and apply the Scriptures correctly.
Having sound doctrine is a repeated theme throughout the New Testament. Paul opposed false teaching almost more than anything else. He wasn’t concerned with having correct theology to win arguments but rather so that we can reach the world. So we can reach our neighbors and show them there’s a better way. They can stop buying the lie that they need to go around God, not to Him for meaning and satisfaction and fulfillment. All of us are called to “contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all” (Jude 3). We contend for the truth because we can only truly understand ourselves once we understand God.
Session 5 Further Study
Read John 14:6
Jesus claimed that He was the embodiment of truth. He believed and taught that all of Scripture pointed to Him (John 5:39). Sound theology matters because knowing Jesus matters, and we can only know Jesus truly by having sound theology. Doctrine is not a matter of secondary importance but rather it is the center of our faith. This doesn’t mean that we have everything figured out. It does mean we have a desire to grow in our understanding of central Christian beliefs. Before He went to the cross, Jesus prayed that His church would be unified in the truth.
Our theology matters. Our beliefs determine how we respond in tragedy and how we respond when things are going fantastic. Theology determines how we view our money, relationships, marriage, choices, and parenting. We approach all of these things by what comes to our mind when we think about God. Being theologically sound matters because it answers the most essential questions of our lives.
Here is some information that will help when learning about what is sound doctrine.
Session 5 Overall Thoughts
What is one thought from Session 5 Marks of a Disciple that you would like to share.
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Read Ephesians 2:4-9
Marks of a Disciple
Session 1 Further Study
Read Ephesians 2:4-9
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