The Discipleship Network Interview: Jim Devine

Discipleship Network Interview

Pastor Dr. Jim Devine 

 Who is a disciple?

 The simplest answer is a believer in Jesus Christ. That is, one who has repented of his sins and placed his or her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone as personal Savior (see Acts 6:7 and 14:21-22). A longer answer is one who has experienced spiritual regeneration (born again from above) by grace through faith, a gift of God by the sovereign working of the Holy Spirit (see John 3:1-21; 6:44; Galatians 3:23-29; Ephesians 2:1-10; and 1 Peter 1:3-5, 22-25).


How would you define discipleship?


Although the term “discipleship” is not found in the Scriptures, we can confidently develop a biblical theology or doctrine (teaching) of discipleship from the 266 verses containing the word “disciple” or “disciples” (the root word means a “learner,” “student,” or “pupil”) and the teaching surrounding these verses as well as the balance of New Testament instruction concerning the growth and expansion of the Church. I define biblical lifestyle discipleship as the very personal, intentional, and continual life-with-life imprinting process of cultivating (forming) the character of the Lord Jesus Christ in another person, and then equipping him or her to do the same in someone else.


Does discipleship have a particular focus or emphasis?


We learn the very heart and focus of biblical discipleship is centered upon the Lord Jesus Christ, our great God and Savior (Titus 2:13). We also learn there are always two dynamic emphases in biblical discipleship. First, the Bible teaches the disciple is one in the process of following after the Lord Jesus. The term “Jesus Follower” is a popular designation for such a person. Second, the Scriptures teach us that a disciple is one in the process of learning from the Lord Jesus. The combination of following after and learning from the Savior are crucial for the disciple to embrace the teaching and lifestyle of the Master. Learning from and following after the Lord Jesus are imprinted upon the disciple’s life through life-with-life relationships with other believers.


What is the goal of discipleship?


Christ’s disciple is to reflect the character of the Lord Jesus Christ and bring glory and praise to God the Father. Paul wrote that the believer’s privilege is to become conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). A Christian disciple is a believer in total life transformation.


How is the disciple’s life being transformed?


The following list is an adequate summary of the indelible marks of a disciple of Christ. These qualities are not static, but dynamic in the sense that a disciple, indwelt by God the Holy Spirit, will be following after the Lord Jesus, learning from the Lord Jesus, and therefore changing, maturing, and being transformed in each of these eight areas:


Œ Christ’s disciple is a believer who is learning to be obedient to the Word of God.


 Christ’s disciple is a believer who is learning to acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Lord of his or her life.


Ž Christ’s disciple is a believer who is learning to live by faith—demonstrating his or her faithfulness in commitments to God, to himself/herself, and to others.


 Christ’s disciple is a believer who is learning how to really love others through action.


 Christ’s disciple is a believer who is always learning and growing in grace.


‘ Christ’s disciple is a believer who is learning to be a self-sacrificing person.


’ Christ’s disciple is a believer who is learning to abide in Christ.


“ Christ’s disciple is a growing believer who is learning to become a reproducing person.


Identify key elements in biblical lifestyle discipleship?


Key Element #1: Biblical Lifestyle Discipleship Involves a Supernatural-Human Process Saturated with the Word of God. In a nutshell, biblical lifestyle discipleship is a unique, God-ordained process which is a combination composed of our regenerated human person, together with the empowering ministry of God the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:15–21).


Key Element #2: Biblical Lifestyle Discipleship Involves an Extended Timeframe. Even after several years of a concentrated exposure to Jesus Christ Himself, there still emerged a traitor (Judas) and a frightened, disillusioned group of disciples at the cross. Jesus rejected any thought of an “instant” disciple or any kind of a formulated plan that would seek to utilize short cuts and easy gimmicks. The truth of God was to be known, understood, embraced, and responded to through a process in time—an extended timeframe. When the Lord Jesus ascended to His Father in Acts 1, He knew that the process of biblical lifestyle discipleship He inaugurated in the lives of the twelve apostles and other disciples had only just begun.


Key Element #3: Biblical Lifestyle Discipleship Involves a Radical Personal Commitment. The Lord Jesus modeled the cost of discipleship. He instructed the disciples that they would suffer trials and tribulations. Paul reiterated the same thought as he wrote of the privilege of belief and of suffering (Philippians 1:29–30). Surely some of the weightier aspects of one’s radical personal commitment involved the denial of self (Matthew 16:24; Luke 9:23) and the daily bearing of one’s cross (i.e. taking full responsibility for obeying the will of God for one’s life). Biblical lifestyle discipleship involved a radical personal commitment of one’s whole life to the Savior. This incredible journey was not for the novice looking for an easy spiritual ride (see the insightful passage in Luke 9:57–62).


Key Element #4: Biblical Lifestyle Discipleship Involves a Life-with-Life Imprinting Experience. The Lord Jesus Christ is the hub of the Church’s discipling ministry. Jesus did not call His men to Himself to learn a particular method or a fancy technique. Although He was a Master Teacher (by any modern criteria His teaching methods were incredibly superb), the Lord knew the greatest impact that He would make upon His disciples was through His very own Life. When we follow after and learn from (the dual essentials of being a disciple) the Lord Jesus Christ, the greatest imprinting result is His divine Life rubbing off on ours.


In summary then, the essential core of their discipling ministry was to bring the authoritative truth of God to bear upon a person so that an authentic lifestyle, in conformity to the character of the Lord Jesus Christ, would be developed. The essential qualification for becoming an effective disciple of Jesus Christ was not based on special degrees or personal talents, but on a total life surrendered to the will and Word of God.

Say something about discipleship and worship:


Biblical discipleship is deeply rooted in worship. I would say with biblical certainty, that discipleship begins in reverent worship (Matthew 28:16-17; see also John 4:20–24). The Church’s exaltation and praise of God’s character and His works should ignite all true disciples with the truth that our Sovereign God is incomparably great and sovereignly rules over His universe. King David prayed, “Thou art great, O Lord God; for there is none like Thee, and there is no God besides Thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears” (2 Samuel 7:22). The prophet Isaiah was later to echo the same thought as he records the Lord’s declaration, “For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me” (Isaiah 46:9).

Say something about discipleship and fellowship:


I am humbled by the Apostle Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 1:9. “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” Disciples of the Lord Jesus have been called into fellowship with Him. In reality the Master is saying, “I want you! I chose you! My desire is that you enjoy an intimate love relationship with Me.” Being in fellowship with the Creator is our source of true personal joy! Being wanted is very important. Here is the truth of being wanted and chosen by Christ for fellowship with the Father and with the Son (see 1 John 1:1–4). The purpose of Jesus’ selection is spelled out in John 15:16. Disciples were chosen for fellowship with Christ and service for Christ. How interesting and yet, how incredible! At one point we were like sheep going astray (read Romans 3:10–18), but now we are bonded together with the Good Shepherd!


What Scriptures best communicate your perspective of discipleship?


Five different passages in the New Testament delineate the balanced harmony of Jesus’ final discipleship instructions to His Church: Matthew 28:16–20; Mark 16:15–18; Luke 24:44–49; John 21:15–23; and Acts 1:1–11. I like to refer to Jesus’ marching orders for His Church as The Incredible Imperative or The Great Commission Mosaic.


Please refer to Pastor Devine’s website or his newly released book, Last Words: Make Disciples! (


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Additional Commentary. . .Resources. . . Replies

  • Being a disciple of Jesus is NOT a teacher pupil relationship much more it is a, 'let's walk together' relationship. Discipleship is part of a lifestyle choice. If we have been where another stands today we are in a position to help, (regardless of anyone's particular gifting).This helping does not mean doing things instead of our companion but with him or her. In the same way as we are all dependent on our Father God the practice of that is that it is by the Holy Spirit in each other that we respond to the Father and to each other. There's always three of us in a any conversation so a constant sensitivity to the Holy Spirit 'this is the way; walk this way' or whatever else He may say. A certain humility to listen both to one another and to Him at the same time is required.

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