Disciplemaking - Lesson 4

Suffering & Persecution

This lesson titled "Suffering and Persecution" emphasizes the importance of understanding hardship and persecution in discipleship, even though it may not be a common part of the faith experience in the West. The video highlights verses from the Gospels, such as the Beatitudes and the Parable of the Sower, that talk about the role of suffering in the Christian journey. The session also acknowledges that suffering transforms and matures followers of Christ, allowing them to share in the sufferings of Christ. The video encourages viewers to see the purpose in their suffering and to find comfort in the God who comforts them in their troubles.
Taught by a Team
Taught by a Team
Lesson 4
Watching Now
Suffering & Persecution

I. Introduction

A. Importance of understanding suffering and persecution in the Christian faith

B. Emphasis on suffering and persecution in the Gospels

II. The Beatitudes and the Kingdom of God

A. Overview of the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12

B. Understanding the Beatitudes in the context of hardship and persecution

III. The Parable of the Sower

A. Overview of the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13:1-23

B. Lessons on perseverance in the face of suffering and persecution from the Parable of the Sower

IV. Paul's Letters and Perseverance in Suffering

A. Overview of Paul's letters and his experiences with suffering and persecution

B. Lessons on perseverance and faithfulness from Paul's letters

V. Conclusion

A. Recap of the importance of understanding suffering and persecution in the Christian faith

B. Encouragement to persevere and remain faithful in the face of suffering and persecution

  • 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.

Mary Jo Wilson
Suffering and Persecution
Lesson Transcript

One more thing that I'd like to touch on before you get actually get into the course is the emphasis we have in each section, a little a little portion on suffering and persecution. Now, that might surprise you as you get into this. Do you think I want to learn about discipleship? It's about loving God and sharing Christ with people. And you may be surprised that we're including a section on suffering and persecution. But the reality is, in the West, while we may not feel that we experience a great deal and persecution is not a part of our faith experience so much that if you look at the Gospels, even a cursory glance at the Gospels, you see that Jesus talks often about hardship and persecution and suffering. And the fact is that his disciples and when they imagine the Messiah coming, they did not imagine that suffering Messiah. They did not imagine that the Jesus as the Messiah was going to be crucified, beaten, crucified and would die on a cross. And so He had to address a great deal with them. This misconception and this misunderstanding. They certainly did not expect that he would be a suffering messiah and that he would call them as well to endure persecution. And so we I'd like to highlight that. And in each section as you go through, you're going to be looking at some of those verses because every one of the gospels contains this. You're going to be looking at some of those verses that talk about hardship and persecution and suffering. And it's important that we understand this in our faith experience. So let's see. I'm going to read the Beatitudes in Matthew five, the Sermon on the Mount, which really describes this Kingdom of God vision that we are emphasizing. It starts out with the Beatitudes. And so I want you to imagine if you were a disciple, a first follower of Jesus, and he's out in this early in his ministry, and you're excited thinking this could be the one, this could be the Messiah, and this is his first sermon. And he starts out, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart. For they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. And blessed are you. When people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me, rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in heaven for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. And the reality is that when these gospels were written, when this is a good decade or more after Christ was with them and they're recording this, the first ones to read these words were enduring persecution. And so it's very much a part of the early church. And so we have these Beatitudes that describe this vision. So the vision that hardship and suffering is part of the vision of the kingdom of God. And we also notice in the parable of the sower, which is which is really the maybe the most important parable that helps us understand all the parables. It's a key parable for us, the parable this. So it gives us four scenarios and three of those scenarios where the seed is cast do not go well. So in the first one we see that it lands, doesn't take it doesn't even go beyond the surface and just snatches it up. The second one, it says that it starts to go in the soil, but it doesn't go deeply at first. There's a lot of smiles and happiness, a lot of joy it describes. But then it starts to get hard. And it describes that even though things look hopeful initially, but it doesn't take root, and when troubles come and persecution, it's gone. It's gone. It does not last. And then the third seed, it winds up landing in a place that already has plants and it's competing with these thorns. And it describes it as worries and anxiety about the things of life and also about this desire, the deception of wealth and this desire for more. And these this chokes out that new seedling. So in there is the Kingdom of God, the seed of the Kingdom of God, that vision of the Kingdom of God. But these other things are competing. And through that it chokes it out. And so it keeps it from really bearing fruit. So we see. That the sea that does go in and take a route is one that is able to endure that persecution. It's able to rewrite those tapes and uproot those those dawns and show us a new way. And so it's those that hardship we want to be aware is very much a part of our experience in discipleship. And we know that suffering forms us. There is a purpose in this suffering. It's not for nothing, and it also forms the early church. It was support part of the early church and maturing those followers. Sharing in the sufferings of Christ is part of the maturing process of his followers, and it's something that allows us to share that with others. And so I'd like to read second Corinthians chapter one. And Paul here writes in verse three Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort who comforts us in our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God for just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ. So also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation. If we are comforted, it is for your comfort which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead and He to live. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril and he will deliver us again on him. We have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us. As you help us by your prayers, then may many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. So you can see how this experience of suffering and hardship, it shapes us. It gives us greater endurance of our faith. It also bonds us with other believers, and the comfort that we experience allows us to comfort others and to walk alongside others who are also suffering and enduring hardship. And then in that process, we seek God's grace and we can all rejoice that God is seeing us through as we pray for one another, and we see this blessing of God's work in our life and his power in those situations. And so we really want to bring this into our growth as a disciple of Christ, because we want to see each one of you and in ourselves that that faith, that seed goes deep and that it's able to flourish and multiply. So understanding, suffering, understanding hardship, persecution is part of that. In the one of the texts Kingdom Life, Peggy Renault Scott wrote chapter six and it's entitled Formed through Suffering. And in that she shares her personal and heartbreaking experiences with suffering. And she also includes a section on suffering and the cause of Christ, and that explores the experience of persecution, and it expands on the important work of suffering in the life of a disciple and of Christ. And then she also goes into many more facets of suffering. So I think you'll really appreciate her writing and her personal experience that shows this is not a theoretical concept for her that she has experienced suffering. And you can see how that process and her leaning into the comfort that God provides, leaning into his power, depending on the prayers of others, how that is forming her. We want to encourage you to keep an eye out as you go through this on how God is building endurance in your faith, how he may be using hardship, and how he's enabling you to stand with others and be present and engage with those who are suffering in prayer and in encouragement and in speaking that comfort that you have experienced. And sometimes that means advocating for them, but always it means praying for them and then having the faith and courage to stand with them. So we invite you to share those reflections in that final paper, in that project you're working that as you go through the process of your growth and what you're learning is discipleship and what God is speaking to you that you include some thoughts on. Hardship. Maybe some of the things that you've experienced and also how God is using that in your life. We also invite you to, as you go through this course, to do it as a small group, to invite other believers who are also wanting to learn to follow Jesus more faithfully and to learn together. And that is the perfect environment to work through these issues, to listen together, to pray for one another, and to grow in that community. And so we'll have along the way some special information or points for small groups as you're leading in small groups. And we will you can arrange it however you like because small groups in your set, they can be quite different. So the course I for this course, I would recommend that if you're comfortable, if you're able, that you keep that small group kind of flat in terms of equal participation and engagement and ownership because the experience of discipleship is not a top down experience, it is everyone is a disciple as you meet together. And rather than having one person teaching, having everyone learning together, maybe taking turns, even facilitating that group and encouraging if people are able to just simply ask questions and listen to one another and take time to pray together. So it's also a great place to experience the one another's in that small group. And when we did some working in Japan, I just printed out all the one another's and we had a small group. We just kind of process that. The small group is a great place to experience the one another's as you learn to be more faithful disciples together.