The goal of Discipleship Discipline Two is to know where the Bible came from, whom it was written for, why we trust it, and to develop an ongoing study of the Bible with specific goals.
In Discipleship Discipline One, your mission was to find qualified Bible teachers to help guide you on your journey. It’s important to have more than one Bible teacher because they don’t all agree and you’ll need to listen to them each carefully, then read your Bible, and ask God to direct you to the truth. Your path to discipleship is not directed by your teachers or mentors, it is directed by God. The role of your Bible teacher is to point you in the right direction. Your role is to follow their instruction and the seek God’s wisdom in prayer.
In Discipleship Discipline One you were tasked with studying scripture that helps you know and understand who Jesus is, what He expects from you, and to develop your personal relationship with Him. I don’t believe in a generic, one-size-fits all path to discipleship. Precisely which sections of the Bible you need to study to achieve this goal is entirely up to you and your more mature Christian mentor, if you have one. Your mentor should interview you, to find out what you already know, what you have already studied, and how your relationship with Jesus has developed thus far. If you do not have a mentor, you will need to do this assessment yourself and then look for resources to fill in the gaps in your understanding. You may start with an online search of the topics you wish to explore, which will lead to appropriate Bible sections to study, or books written by qualified Bible teachers that will open up new paths of discovery.
In Discipleship Discipline Two, you will need to expand your Bible study to include a study of the book itself. To become a true disciple of Christ, you will need a solid foundation for why you believe what you believe. To accomplish this goal you will need to look for respected sources outside of the Bible that chronicle where the Bible came from, who wrote it, and what was the purpose of each individual book. Again, precisely how you pursue this goal will depend on what you already know and what sources you have already studied. Seek guidance on how to fill in the gaps in your learning and never stop exploring new resources that will expand your knowledge.
Your path to discipleship should also include a systematic study of the whole Bible. If you have not read the Bible from cover-to-cover, you need to develop a plan to accomplish that goal as soon as possible. Understanding the Bible from beginning to end is critical to your overall instruction. If you have already made a complete study of the Bible, you should consider doing it again from a new perspective. Do some research and find a Bible teacher that can help you read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation with a deeper understanding than you already have.
“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide, we might have hope.” Romans 15:4 (NIV)
After completing your study of the Bible from cover-to-cover, and you feel confident you have a clear picture of the whole book, it’s time to focus on areas of the Bible that specifically speak to you. Ask your mentor to suggest areas of study that will speak to your heart in whatever season of life you currently reside. If you have not yet found a mentor, you will need to do your own research to discover how best to proceed. Carefully evaluate yourself and look for the biggest weakness in your connection to God or your understanding of the Bible. Then do an online search for resources that point you to books of the Bible that will address those weaknesses. Carefully reading those sections of the Bible will be your starting point, and then seek out books written by respected Bible teachers that will take your study to a deeper level.
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 (NIV)
As a disciple of Christ, your study of the history of the Bible, your overall study of the Bible as a whole, and your pinpoint study of Bible sections that pertain specifically to you, will be an ongoing part of your life from this point forward. As pointed out in Discipleship Discipline One, study of the Bible is useless if not put to use. If you buy a new device of any kind and then read the instructions, but never turn the device on and make use of it, what value does that device have? That device is useless if you never turn it on. Your study of the Bible is only your instruction manual – it is useless if you don’t turn in on.
“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” James 1:23-25 (NIV)
If you have been doing a lot of Bible study, a great way to put that knowledge and wisdom to work is to teach a small group or Bible study class. It may be time for you to become someone’s mentor. At a minimum, you need to take what you learn from your Bible study and put it to use in your daily life. When the Bible speaks to you, make appropriate changes in your life that bring you into alignment with God’s will. If you are able to memorize verses of the Bible that’s fantastic, but it is far more important that you are able to articulate precisely what those verses are teaching. That precise understanding is what should be guiding your every step as you go through your day. There is no reason to trust your natural instincts when you have the deeper understanding of God in your possession.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
All scripture references are linked to Bible Gateway so that you can read each verse in context. Bible Gateway allows you to change the verse to your favorite translation and compare it side-by-side with multiple translations. In addition, you can select to hear an audio version of any verse by clicking on the speaker icon. Keep the Bible Gateway App on your phone so that you can visit the Word of God at any time during your day.