Stories of DiscipleshipQUESTION: What are stories of discipleship from biblical history?ANSWER:
Biblical history is full of stories of discipleship. Read how Jesus described what it meant to be a disciple… "Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels'" (Mark 8:34-38).
Jesus told it like it is. There is a cost and there is a prize to be one of His disciples. Saul of Tarsus and a Pharisee, who persecuted Christians, was converted to Christianity on the road to Damascus where he had a blinding encounter with the risen Christ. He was transformed into Paul the apostle and became an ambassador of Jesus to the Gentiles. In the oppressive shadow of imperial Rome, the early church unfolded its vigorous bud with Paul spreading its seed.
Paul authored a great deal of the New Testament of the Bible. In Philippians 4:8, He wrote, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."
Paul taught that the more a person thinks on good things, the better person he would be. Conversely, the more he dwells on immoral things, the more immoral a person would become. He preached that if something did not have praiseworthy qualities, the Lord's people should not think on it at all. A wonderful transformation of character is created by thinking on godly things which have wisdom and depth of instruction.
Paul was the one privileged to see the Lord after He arose from the dead. Paul was given great authority by Christ, "Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Matthew 18:18). In layman's terms, Jesus was saying that Paul would be so guided by divine wisdom (The Holy Spirit), that what Paul declared necessary in life, would be upheld in heaven, and whatsoever he should declare unnecessary, would be also considered unnecessary in heaven. The entire responsibility of the early church was outlined by Paul.
His ministry was not easy - He was imprisoned twice in Roman jails and he was persecuted by the Jews and the Pharisees because he ministered to the hated Gentiles. Even though Paul suffered for his beliefs, he remained the one person, apart from Jesus Himself who shaped the history of Christianity.
Until Paul's conversion, little had been done about carrying the gospel to non-jews. Phillip had preached in Samaria and to an Ethiopian man; Cornelius, a Gentile went to Tarsus to find Paul and bring him to Antioch, and together they worked among the believers there. They were then sent on a missionary journey, the first of three Paul would take that would carry the gospel across the Roman Empire.
The thorny issue of whether Gentile believers had to obey Jewish laws before they could become Christians caused many problems in the early church. Paul worked hard to convince the Jews that Gentiles were acceptable to God, but he spent even more time convincing the Gentiles that they were acceptable to God. The lives Paul touched were changed and challenged by meeting Christ through him.