The disciple’s handbook
Living as a Romans 12 Christian…
May 2nd, 2019
Chip Ingram has a book out called True Spirituality. This book centers its content around the twelfth chapter in Romans. I was listening to Chip on the radio talking about this topic and I realized while Chip’s book is very good, I think, perhaps a different title for it might have been better than focusing on ‘Spirituality’. This is my opinion and mine alone.
I like the concept of tagging this chapter The Disciples Handbook only because while it is Spiritual in nature, the life Paul describes in this chapter is all in for Jesus. No, it’s not an outline for making disciples. However, if you are serious about becoming a disciple of Jesus, you could do worse than utilizing what is encapsulated in chapter twelve as a template for living the disciple’s life.
Recently I was introduced to the 4-1-1 training for discipleship which comes out of the Great Commission and includes a method of presenting the Gospel that is easy and effective.
I guess I am perhaps more excited about this training than I might have otherwise been, because the Lord has been laying discipleship on my heart in a big way for the past year now. The 4-1-1 provides a simple means of implementing the directives found in the Great Commission and delivering the Gospel to virtually anyone.
The Great Commission is about ‘making disciples. Jesus gave this instruction to us, his disciples. At the same time, he made it clear that God the Father had given him “All” authority in heaven and on earth. The crux of the Great Commission is that Jesus then lays that authority and responsibility at the feet of every Christian.
We are, to be disciples and we are to make disciples; period.
The 4-1-1 gives us a great framework to fulfill the Great Commission with. The “Three Circles” and the 15 second testimony is a wonderful way to present the Gospel.
But doing all that will not be very effective, if it is just a ritual we practice and then go about our lives contrary to a disciples lifestyle, when aren’t exercising the 4-1-1 or illustrating the Three Circles. Our life outside that activity needs to be congruent with the efforts of our evangelism and disciple making.
With one solitary misstep in our lives we have the potential to ruin our testimony to some lost soul. We don’t want that. So a disciples guidebook is in order.
I’m going to step through Romans 12 passage by passage so we can see how this chapter can be our template for assuring that our efforts in both evangelism and discipleship are not in vain.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:1-2 (CSB)
If we want our lives to demonstrate the transformation (renewal noted in the 3 Circles), we are going to need to see that transformation taking place in our own lives, and in such a manner it is notable to those around us.
This is probably one of the easier things to accomplish, especially if you’re still reading this article. By making it this far in, it’s safe to consider that you are serious about discipleship and even if you haven’t made you move to become active in that effort your drawn to the Great Commission and what Jesus is telling us to do.
The transformation comes when we surrender our lives to Christ Jesus. If it hasn’t come, it will, as you are on the cuff of commitment by your deep interest in this topic. When we make ourselves God’s vessel for his work, that transformation happens and there is no stopping it.
At the point we experience that transformation, then this passage in Romans is a piece of cake. We may have to take a deep breath here and again, but by and large making our bodies a “living sacrifice” isn’t such a big deal when we’ve had a transformation by the “renewing of” our minds.
All these things fit into place just as illustrated with the “new creation” in the 3 Circles of the 4-1-1.
Gifts working in concert in one body:
The next segment spells out the following:
- Don’t think of ourselves more highly than we should.
- Think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one of us.
- The Body of Christ has many parts. All the parts do not have the same function, but each individual member’s contribution edifies the rest of the body.
- Regardless of what gifts are bestowed on us, use those gifts to edify and grow the Body of Christ in unity.
For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts: If prophecy, use it according to the proportion of one’s faith; if service, use it in service; if teaching, in teaching; if exhorting, in exhortation; giving, with generosity; leading, with diligence; showing mercy, with cheerfulness.
Romans 12:3-8 (CSB)
These are summarized as:
- Let love be without hypocrisy.
- Detest evil; cling to what is good.
- Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters.
- Outdo one another in showing honor.
- Do not lack diligence in zeal; be fervent in the Spirit; serve the Lord.
- Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer.
- Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality.
- Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
- Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.
- Live in harmony with one another.
- Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble.
- Do not be wise in your own estimation.
- Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes.
- If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
- Do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for God’s wrath
- If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
- Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good.
This summary is almost verbatim from verse nine down to twenty-one. I really can’t spell it out much clear than Paul has. But this shopping list gives us seventeen objectives that we can evaluate our lives by and use as a benchmark for behaving in the role of a disciple and a disciple-maker.
Let love be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good. Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lack diligence in zeal; be fervent in the Spirit; serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for God’s wrath, because it is written, Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord. But If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head. Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.
Romans 12:9-21 (CSB)
Every believer has been charged with the Great Commission. It is our commandment to fulfill. If we want that fulfillment to be effective our lives need to display a congruency to what we testify to and teach.
“The disciple’s handbook” found in Romans 12 is fundamental in providing that consistency in our lives to back up the purpose for which we are called.
In the Grace of Jesus!