To grow as a disciple of Jesus is to experience Jesus. God has graciously and supernaturally given us an inspired holy Scripture that leads us into life-giving and life-changing encounters with Jesus. To follow Jesus means finding life in him and through his words. But how does that happen? Here are four ways.
By the Word of God Renewing Our Minds
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1–2
The Bible presents a God-centered world in which his glory is the highest good and worth living for. This is a major realignment from the predominant individualistic outlook in culture that says, “It’s all about me.” Seeing the stories of transformation of people who are now living for God’s glory instead of their own is inspiring. Catching a glimpse of God’s glory is life-altering.
By Giving Us Direction
“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11
When Jesus is tempted (Luke 4), it was his prior exposure and time in the Bible that served him well. Embedding God’s word in our hearts is not so much a memory project as it is a project of encountering truth. We grow when our exposure to God’s word helps us to identify the subtle lies that lure us away from God and his glory.
By Restoring Our Soul
“But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.” Psalm 103:17–18
Every message in our culture invites us to recharge with “me time.” The Scriptures suggest that recharging is in rehearsing God’s great work of forgiveness, calling us his children, and inviting us into his kingdom work.
By Informing Our Prayers
Jesus gives us many examples of how the Old Testament shaped his thinking and prayer life. We see that he took his understanding of what it meant for him to be our shepherd from Psalm 23. We see Christ’s prayer on the cross influenced by Psalm 22 as he cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
We even see that Christ’s model of discipleship was influenced by his view of the word of God. In his prayer for his disciples in John 17, he says that he has sanctified them through God’s word.
What Does Growth Look Like?
We grow as disciples as we learn to turn the expressions of our heart to God. So when you read the Bible, look for:
- Sins to confess
- Promises to claim
- Examples to follow or avoid
- Commands to obey
- Statements of significance
- Responses of awe, which is worship
- Lives lived in community, which support righteousness and life change in each other
- Your life used as a billboard to declare God’s invitation to life and to join him on mission.
This is what it looks like to be a growing disciple.