What Jesus Started: 4-Train disciples

What we can all learn from Karl Barth

Karl Barth

Karl Barth

Karl Barth was the greatest theologian of the 20th century. He was also steadfastly unfaithful to his wife, Nelly.

The affair with his personal assistant, Charlotte von Kirschbaum, lasted decades. He caused great pain to his wife and children by insisting his mistress move into the family home.

Barth had his theological justifications for the affair. Something about the dialectical nature of truth. Proving it's possible to be smart and stupid at the same time. 

For Barth, the Word of God is veiled in the fallible human words of Scripture. The Bible becomes the Word of God only through the subjective revelation of the Spirit.

If you’re smart enough and recognize no higher authority than yourself, you can justify anything. This is the great danger of moving away from radical obedience to the teachings of Jesus and the whole of Scripture. This is the folly of placing ourselves above the authority of God's Word. It's as old as Adam and as current as postmodernism.

Who am I to condemn Karl Barth? The words of Jesus do. He warned of the perils sexual sin. Pluck out your eye! Cut off your hand! Anything is better than facing God's judgment (Matt 5:27-30). If you're living a double life, put it right now.

Sin is serious stuff. It’s the reason he went to the Cross. That’s why the heart of discipleship is learning together to obey what Jesus taught (Matt 28:18-20). There's a price to pay and it's worth it.

Life in Christ means obedience to Christ

Gordon Fee

Gordon Fee

Learning to obey what Jesus commanded is central to disciple making movements.

Yet some regard obedience based discipleship as the equivalent of introducing a Christian verison of sharia (Islamic law).

I'm working through Philipians at the movemnet with Gorden Fee, an outstanding NT scholar. In comments on Philippians 2:5-11 here's what he says about obedience and disicpleship

There is no genuine life in Christ that is not at the same time, by the power of the Holy Spirit, being regularly transformed into the likeness of Christ . A gospel of grace, which omits obedience, is not Pauline in any sense.

Life in Christ is a gift of grace that we can never earn. Life in Christ brings with it the power of the Holy Spirit resulting in being transformed from the inside out so that we bear his likeness.

Disciplehsip means learning to obey what Jesus commanded. One step at a time. Always one more step.


From gospel to discipleship

Troy Cooper and Russell Godward model how to lead someone to Christ using the 3Circles and begin discipleship.

Download the 411 notes Troy uses.

Looking for people to read the Bible with

There is a ten-year-old girl in a Cape Town school who does Discovery Bible Study at lunchtime with her friends. She's been making disciples since she was eight.

Celsus, a second-century Greek philosopher, alleged that Christianity was the faith of uneducated slaves, women and children. He complained it was spread from house to house “by wool workers, cobblers, laundry workers, and the most illiterate and bucolic yokels” who claimed that they alone knew the right way to live.

Movements mobilise everyone. They are spread by insiders. They are contagious. They employ simple but profound methods. They are fuelled by commitment and passion.

Discovery Bible Study (DBS) is the key ingredient in multiplying movements. DBS is at the centre of evangelism, discipleship, leadership development and healthy church formation.

We're not talking about a tool or a program or model. We're talking about God's living Word. We're letting the Word do the work.

Whenever people gather to read the Scriptures and learn how to obey, God is powerfully present. In Acts, the Word spreads, grows, and multiplies, and wherever the Word goes, the fruit is multiplying disciples and churches.

The video above is a simple introduction to Discover Bible Study by our good friends at Beyond.

How do you get started? Ask someone. Say, "I'm looking to read the Bible with someone. Would you be interested?" Keep asking until you find someone who says yes.