Disciplemaking - Lesson 6

Abiding in Christ

This lesson focuses on the importance of abiding in Christ to bear fruit and be a true disciple of Jesus. Jesus says in John 15 that he is the true vine and that every branch that does not bear fruit will be taken away, but every branch that does bear fruit will be pruned to bear even more fruit. To abide in Christ means to have a deep, communal relationship with him, and it is through this relationship that fruit bearing occurs. Discipleship is not a program but a relationship, and as we walk deeply with Jesus, he prunes us to make us stronger. This session also teaches that joy in life comes from abiding in Christ, and that it is from a love relationship with God that we become disciples and bear fruit in our lives.
Taught by a Team
Taught by a Team
Lesson 6
Watching Now
Abiding in Christ

I. Importance of Abiding in Christ

A. The Great Commandment: Loving God

B. The Essence of Discipleship

C. The Key to Joy in Life

II. Understanding Abiding in Christ

A. The True Vine and the Vine Dresser

B. Pruning for More Fruit

C. The Role of the Branches

III. The Result of Abiding in Christ

A. Bearing Much Fruit

B. Character Formation

C. Growing the Work of God

IV. Discipleship as a Relationship

A. Not a Program

B. A Relationship with Jesus

C. Jesus' Sacrifice for Us

V. Pruning as a Part of Abiding in Christ

A. Lessons Learned Through Pruning

B. Removal of Unfruitful Areas

VI. Conclusion

A. Importance of Abiding in Christ

B. Result of Abiding in Christ

C. Discipleship as a Relationship

D. Pruning as a Part of Abiding in Christ

  • Mary Jo Wilson and Joe Handley introduce themselves and express their excitement about the upcoming discipleship course, which aims to enhance participants' relationship with God and their work in the world, and encourage them to bring transformative change to their church and ministry.
  • Joe Handley outlines the elements that they will be covered in the Disciplemaking course: what is a disciple, the great commandment, becoming a disciple, being a disciple, fruitfulness, and multiplying disciples.
  • The lesson discusses the approach to discipleship, which is focused on the four gospels and building obedient disciples through the seven obedience; it emphasizes a holistic approach to following Jesus and the informed imagination, and the course will focus on the gospels of John, Matthew, Luke, and Mark.
  • Mary Jo Wilson emphasizes the importance of understanding the role of suffering and persecution in discipleship, as it is a recurring theme in the Gospels and is also a part of the early church experience, and discusses how enduring such hardships can be a formative experience for Christians.
  • The lesson discusses the importance of abiding in Christ as the key to joy in life, bearing fruit in one's life, and becoming a disciple of Jesus through a deep and communal relationship with Him.
  • Discipleship is not a program but a relationship. Abiding in Christ is the key to joy in life and bearing much fruit and is achieved through having a deep communal walk with Jesus and allowing Him to prune us to make us stronger.
  • Mary Jo Wilson discusses the importance of a posture of repentance and dependence on the Holy Spirit in the discipleship process, and highlights the work of the Holy Spirit in convicting of sin, guiding in decision making, and forming believers into Christ.
  • The instructors and students discuss their thoughts and experiences on what it means to be a disciple, including the importance of maintaining a growing relationship with God, the internal aspects of discipleship, abiding in God, the role of inviting God into everyday life, and the significance of pruning.
  • This session discusses the importance of becoming a disciple of Jesus and our identity in Christ, illustrated through the example of churches in Japan becoming centers for relief goods after the 2011 disasters and being seen as representatives of Christ by the community.
  • By taking this lesson, you will gain knowledge and insight into the relationship between the Sermon on the Mount and the Kingdom of God, including the importance of Jesus' teachings in the Sermon on the Mount and how they relate to the mission of the church and the call to discipleship.
  • The lesson discusses the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, where Jesus describes the Kingdom of God and how his followers are to live as salt and light in the world, raising the bar on the interpretation of the Old Testament law and calling for inner righteousness, forgiveness, and love for enemies.
  • This lesson reviews the importance of becoming like Jesus and displaying his characteristics, such as humility and generosity, to become authentic Christ-centered people in our communities, and emphasizes the need for communal support to grow in our faith.
  • In this group discussion about discipleship and the Sermon on the Mount, the students and instructors reflect on the Beatitudes and how they challenge and contrast with the values of the world, and discuss how Jesus lifted up marginalized people and called all his followers to be salt and light in the world.
  • In this lesson Mary Jo Wilson and Joe Handley discuss transitioning from becoming a disciple to being a disciple who makes disciples, with a focus on the overflow of abiding in Christ into the lives of others.
  • Mary Jo Wilson discusses the importance of spiritual conversations and how to approach them in our daily lives through the example of Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well in John chapter 4.
  • Joe Handley discusses the idea of being a disciple of Jesus and how to share one's story and witness through different tools, including prayer, social media, and engaging with others through layering of interactions.
  • The class discusses the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman, highlighting how Jesus approached the woman with humility and respect, treating her like a real person and engaging in a conversation with her, despite social and cultural barriers. They also discuss how Jesus challenged his disciples to adopt a Kingdom way that breaks down barriers and recognizes the value and dignity of all people.
  • This session focuses on the importance of reproducibility and sustainability in disciple-making, drawing on examples from the book of Acts and personal anecdotes.
  • Joe Handley discusses the importance of a reproducible culture of discipleship in the Kingdom of God, drawing on the idea of the mustard seed and how small actions can have a big impact, and provides examples of how this can be implemented in different contexts such as micro churches.
  • This lesson provides information on small groups in discipleship, including their definition, anatomy, purpose, characteristics, steps for starting one, the role of the leader, the discipleship process in small groups, and their importance in discipleship in general.
  • Instructors Joe Handley and Mary Jo Wilson discuss with students their visions of the Kingdom of God, with one sharing their goal of sharing their story to help others understand the word of God, while another likens the planting of seeds to the growth of faith, stressing the importance of patience and trust in the process of nurturing them.
  • Joe Handley and Mary Jo Wilson discuss the importance of creating a practical plan for discipleship and ministry, encouraging listeners to reflect on what they've learned, and write a strategic personal plan for following through on their learning.
  • This lesson teaches how to pull together the different sections of a discipleship plan using the model of vision, intent and means, and suggests including a vision, introduction, conclusion and rule of life, while encouraging reflection and sharing with others.
  • Joe Handley discusses the importance of creating a "rule of life" as part of a personal discipleship plan, which helps to balance and organize different areas of life, including spiritual, social, intellectual, and physical aspects.
  • Joe Handley and Mary Jo Wilson close their discipleship course by expressing gratitude for the opportunity to learn and grow together, and offer a prayer of blessing for their students to continue on their lifelong journey as faithful followers of Jesus.

In this class, you will explore the foundations, methods, and models of disciplemaking, drawing from biblical principles, historical perspectives, and theological insights. You will examine the disciplemaking approaches of Jesus and Paul, as well as modern examples and strategies. Additionally, you will learn how to develop a personal disciplemaking plan through the assessment of spiritual gifts and identification of ministry opportunities. Finally, you will delve into disciplemaking in the local church and beyond, including church-based strategies, cross-cultural disciplemaking, and equipping and multiplying disciplemakers.

Joe Handley, PhD
Abiding in Christ
Lesson Transcript

So as we mentioned, to begin this section, we're talking about the great command, loving God with all our heart, our soul, our mind and our strength. That is the essence of the beginning stage of what it means to be a disciple, a disciple of Jesus, someone that really loves God. Well, because why? Because God loves us so much. And so, to begin this section, we want to talk about the importance of what we what we've what we mentioned in the Scripture. For you to read this passage in John 14 and John 15 about abiding in Christ. And let me just read this section for us so we can get us started. That'll help us unpack what we're about to talk about. Jesus says in John 15, I am the true vine and my father is the vine dresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you, Abidin. Me and I and you, as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine. Neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine. You are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he. It is the bears much fruit for apart from me. You can do nothing if anyone does not abide in me. He is thrown away like a branch and withers and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you bite in me and my words abide in you, Ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you by this. My father is glorified and that you bear much fruit. And so prove to be my disciples as the Father has loved me. So have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will bear in my love. Just as I have kept my father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you that your joy, that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full. Did you catch that? The key to joy in life, the joy would be for is this passage that Jesus has has given to us through the Gospel of John. And we want to walk through this a little bit more together because it's about abiding in Christ as we abide in Christ. We will bear much fruit and apart from him, we can do nothing. We say at age and access. Everything hinges on our love relationship with God because it is from that that we become a disciple. And it is from that that fruit bears forth in our life, both the kind of fruit that his character formation, the fruit of the spirit, but also the fruit of the kingdom in terms of growing the work of God in our community, in our family, in our church and neighborhood in the world as we abide in Christ. We will bear much fruit. This is so important. You know, discipleship is truly not a program. It's not a bunch of five steps to this or six steps to this. It's really a relationship. It's a relationship that you and I have with Jesus himself. And praise God that he's the one that died on the cross to give us a new life. And as we abide in him, we will bear much fruit and he prunes us along the way. Sometimes there's those ouch moments in life where we learn lessons as we walk with deeply with Jesus. He'll be pruning us. And if there are areas in our life that are unfruitful, you heard in that passage those branches are cut off, thrown into the fire and burned. And then through those processes, you and I learn to become a stronger disciple, a follower of Jesus. So discipleship is really relational. It's about abiding in Jesus and having a deep communal walk with him. And as we abide in him, we will bear much fruit. For me. This process also is about an apprenticeship relationship. I'm an apprentice of Jesus. The longer I've lived in life, the deeper I grow in that apprenticeship and he is teaching me. As I bathed myself in this passage in particular, but also all of Scripture. I learn to be a better disciple, and boy have I grown over the years. Every episode of my life, God just keeps stretching me and pruning me and growing me. And there's areas where like, Ouch, Oh, he cut that limb off and oh, that's painful. But I've learned that that painful process is in a tremendous growth experience. And that's what this passage is trying to teach us, that as we abide in Christ, our rich relationship grows immensely. And it's really about that love we have with the father. You know, I have a story to help unpack this this passage, but it's really quite a powerful story. It comes from a country roughly in South Asia, I'd say, although I don't want to totally talk about where and I came across this pastor one time that had been through our program with Asian Access. He'd gone through this transformational process and hearing his story really unpack for me at a deeper level what it means to be an abuser in Christ. You know, he was one of the most successful pastors in his entire country. For years, he had planted more churches than any other pastor in the entire nation. So people looked up to him as if, wow, he's an amazing leader. But little did they know that inside he was dying on the vine. He really had kind of lost his sense of purpose and his marriage was about ready to fall apart. His family was not doing well. His churches, many of these churches that he had started were withering away. And it was a really tough season. And during this season of his life, when things were really going the wrong way. A friend came alongside and said, Hey, there's this group that's come into our country, a group called Asian Access, and I think it might be very helpful for you. Would you please join us? And the guy says, You know what? My marriage is falling apart. My churches aren't doing well. And I am completely depressed and depleted. And I don't know if I can handle another program. And this this friend said, you know what? This isn't a program. It's a process. And I think it's just what you might need right now. So this guy sort of reluctantly came along and joined the process. And as he was sitting course after course, week after week, learning really what it means to be abiding in Christ, He realized that he had lost his first love. He came to the conclusion that he had lost that time with Jesus on a daily basis. He had lost that rich relationship with God, and because of that, he was withering away. He actually started and I don't know about you, but I'm this way. He started relying on his own strength. You know, as we go along in our journey of walking with Christ, we also start to showcase the gifts and skills that God has given to us. He's given us a lot of talents that we can use. And what happens over time is we start to rely on those talents rather than relying on Christ. And when we rely on our talents, it's all about us rather than about Jesus. And when we start to lean in more on who we are. We get exhausted because ministry keeps pressing in the challenges of life. Don't stop and our talents can't take us all the way. We have to renew ourselves frequently in that walk with the Lord. And it is in that walk that we get the rich depth where we can bear much fruit, fruit that will last sustainable life, a sustainable fruit, sustainable ministry, sustainable work life balance, sustainable family. Where does all that come from? The Sustainer Jesus himself. As we abide in the vine, we will bear much fruit. This fellow finally got to the point after the exhaustion where he realized he had lost his first love. And he said, Lord, I'm going to commit myself daily to bathe myself in your word and see if it renews. In me. That spirit that you want in me. As he started to spend more time with God's Word, He was so overfilled with joy like this passage said that your joy may be complete, that your joy may be made full. This pastor started to sense that joy in his life again, and he invited his wife into this picture. You know, his wife was or his marriage was on the rocks. And he said, would you please join me? They started praying together. They started reading scripture together and sharing what they were learning. And all of a sudden, his life was completely turned upside down. Their marriage was renewed. They started growing deeper in Christ together, and God started kind of rekindling that love in their relationship. They started investing in their kids and and kind of encouraging their kids to grow. And it became a powerful family ecosystem that started to filter out or drift down into the rest of what he was doing. When he met me, he had not only surpassed the amount of churches that he had planted, but he had likely close to tripled them. After graduating from Age and Access, he said, he came to me and he said, Joe, never again will I lose my first love. It's all about abiding in Christ. As we abide in him, we will bear much fruit. He goes, Unfortunately, many of the first season of life churches that I planted, they were unhealthy and unhealthy. Churches grow in an unhealthy fashion. But he says, since that time, when I started deeply abiding in God's Word again, when I started renewing my relationship with Jesus, he started overflowing into the life of the churches I planted in there, rich and vibrant and delightful, he says. The people I invest in and mentor and disciple, they're growing in Christ. And it is in that rich, abiding love with Christ that his life was renewed and his whole vision for the church and for his country was exponentially growing to the point where he came up to me and he said, Joe, I'm 50 years old and my life span in our country is only probably another ten years. But during my lifetime I want to have planted 100 churches. By then he had already planted 50, so he had 50 more to do. And the next ten years, those are crazy numbers. But he said, I promise you this, the numbers don't matter what a matter. What really matters is that abiding love relationship with God. As we abide in him, we will bear much fruit and our joy will be made for friends. Discipleship is really about abiding in Christ, our love relationship with God. That first command love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind. As we abide in Christ, we will bear much fruit. And the outcome is that our joy will be complete, will experience waves of God's joy in our life. And it's been powerful for me to watch that over the course of the years in my ministry. And as I mentioned earlier in the introduction to this section, I was shocked to see this is such a central paradigm for our work with age and access. At first, because I thought kind of isn't that a no brainer? But time after time after time after time, I hear story after story after story of person that have renewed their relationship with Christ, just like this pastor in this country I mentioned. And it is in that abiding love relationship with God that we renew our joy, that we are able to flourish in life and we have sustainable long term ministry. So what do we want you to do as a next step In this second section of our course, I would like you to take one hour of silent retreat after this segment of the video. We want you to take a break before you watch the next video and go off on a silent retreat. Just listening to God. It's okay to take your Bible. You know, maybe you want to focus on this passage, John, 14 to 15 and. Really so deeply. What is God saying to you? Take a silent retreat and just listen to God and I pray this will become a practice for you throughout your life. I want you to reflect on what you're learning about abiding in Christ. What is dependance look like upon him? Rather than relying on your own strengths or your own abilities. What does it mean to truly abide and become dependent on Jesus? And then from that dependance, what might the fruitfulness look like that flows out of you? So take this one hour, this next week, before you watch the next video and really soak deeply with God and listen to Him and see what he's saying to you about abiding. And then what is God saying to you through the Scripture about his spirit? What is it about the way the Holy Spirit, you know, is unfolded in this passage and how we interact with him in this life and journey? Because it is his spirit that is feeding us, feeding our soul is we abiding Christ. His spirit will guide us forward. It will prompt us, it will encourage us. And then ultimately, how will you respond to what you're learning?