Instructions for teaching about the Discipleship Diagram:
This diagram is intended to help us teach several things:
1. It provides us with a list of key spiritual disciplines and arranges the disciplines into three categories. This isn't meant to be a comprehensive list of disciplines, but does cover the basic ones that I teach.
2. It provides English and Nepali (Sanskrit) terms for many concepts that are very important for teaching about discipleship.
3. It helps us to get some idea of how the spiritual disciplines are related to other vital areas of our spiritual life. And, importantly, depicts discipleship in a non-linear way rather than a typical, Western step-by-step manner.
Part A: Truth is the Core
Truth is at the center of our diagram because it is at the center of all things. The difference between a Christ-follower and everyone else begins with their relationship to Truth. Christ-followers are those who have heard, believe, and obey Truth (Rom. 2:8, Eph. 1:13, 1Pt. 1:22). Others are ignorant of the truth, reject it, and even oppose and suppress it (Rom. 1:18, Eph. 4:18, 2 Tim. 3:8). But the Bible says that freedom (Jn. 8:32), sanctification (Jn. 17:17), renewal (Rom. 12:2), and salvation (1 Tim. 2:4) all come from Truth. Thus, Truth should be a central concern for the Christ-follower and the one who is trying to disciple others. Also, since the Bible is God’s revelation of Truth, it must play a central role in all discipleship (2 Tim. 2:15). Disciple-makers must understand their task as essentially about the impartation of truth to others.
Part B: TriEak Parmeshwar
The Bible reveals that Truth is not a WHAT but a WHO. God is truth and all truth flows from Him. He is the God of Truth (Isa. 65:16) who cannot lie (Heb. 6:18). His Son, Jesus, said, “I am the Truth (Jn. 14:6). The Holy Spirit is called the “Spirit of Truth” who will guide us into “all truth” (Jn. 16:13). Clearly, our relationship to Truth is the same thing as our relationship to God. In fact the most foundational Truth is that God exists eternally as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is TriEak Parmeshwar, the 3-in-1 God. God is Truth and thus God is at the center of our discipleship. Thus, we may say that the disciple-maker's efforts to impart truth and her efforts to introduce someone to God are one and the same.
Part C: Regeneration
The beginning of our relationship with God is called regeneration. This is what Jesus was talking about when he said that we must be “born again” (Jn. 3) When this happens, our old, sinful, darkened, and shameful life passes away. Everything becomes new in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). Our sin and shame is taken away. Satan and all evil spirits are rendered powerless against us. The Holy Spirit comes to live inside us. New spiritual and eternal life begins.
Key elements of regeneration from discipleship perspective include experience, sacrifice, and surrender. Experience (anubhav) refers to a person encountering God as living and real. Prayers are answered, God’s power is displayed through signs and wonders, God communicates through dreams and visions, the love of God is manifest in Christ-followers who serve and bless others. This also refers to the experience of regeneration – the result of the Holy Spirit indwelling a person. Sacrifice (balidan) refers especially to the story of Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension. A person experiencing God as living and real must be presented with the message of who Jesus is and what He has accomplished and promised. Surrender (sharaana) is something of a culminating piece of regeneration. The person God is regenerating will finally give their lives to Him in faith. The Nepal/Sanskrit word we are using her is “sharaana” which literally means to “take shelter in”. Surrendering to God through Christ means that a person runs into the shelter of Jesus’. The disciple-maker must carefully consider the one(s) she is discipling. Are experiencing God as living and real? (not the same as believing God exists -- one can be a theist and ignore God, but cannot both experience and ignore God). Are they being told the story of Christ? Are they being meaningfully called to enter the shelter of Jesus?
Parts D & E: Discipleship Roots and Spiritual Disciplines
The regenerate person begins to experience transformation into Christ-likeness. There is a sense in which this can be automatic. Often the experience of regeneration will overflow in a zealous pursuit of God through worship, prayer, or other disciplines. However, over the long-run of a Christ-follower’s life, this transformation process must be intentionally nurtured. This may be called discipleship because it refers to the process of following Jesus as a teacher we desire to imitate (Luke 6:40).
There are three roots for the discipleship of Christ-followers. The first root, devotion (bhakti), is rooted in the soil of an individual’s personal relationship with God. Growing from this root are Prayer (prarthana), Bible Reading / Study (shastra), Worship (puja), Meditation (dhyana), Fasting / Penance (uposhya), Confession (swikar), and Joy (anandena). The second root of discipleship is spiritual fellowship (satsang). The soil for this root is the relationship Christ-followers share together before God. Springing forth from this are fellowship (sangati), corporate worship (upasana), the teaching ministry (shiksha), sacramental life (samskara), Body-connections (sharir-sambandha), accountability (sahadharma), giving (daana), and joy (anandena). The final root is service (seva) which grows from the soil of Christ-followers who are engaged together with a world that needs the Truth. From this root grows disciplines of service (seva), giving (daan), proclaiming the message of Christ (prachar), missions (prerit), intercession (antar-binti), and joy (aanandena).
That's it. Again, would love your feedback and suggestions. This is in the initial stages now and I'm sure will undergo many revisions.