Acts 6:7a – “And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem..."

Ever since the church’s inception it has been marked by multiplication. The driving method behind our explosive growth has been a simple, time-tested approach that was modeled, commanded, and passed down to us by Jesus. It’s what we call discipleship.

In short, discipleship is entrusting the gospel to another person in ways that empower and equip them to do the same for others.

Before his execution in Rome, the Apostle Paul left Timothy, his beloved son in the faith, with these words:

II Timothy 2:1-2 “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

In most cases, you will hear II Timothy 2:2 but not 2:1. The irony of this omission is that without the power given in v. 1, the application of v. 2 would be impossible. That’s because discipleship is hard work! And hard work requires strength.

Much like Timothy, if we are not receiving daily strength from the grace of God, then the daily challenges of life will sidetrack us from the daunting work of making disciples.

So how do you get started? Here are 5 suggestions.[1]

1. Own the assignment.

Our foremost assignment from Jesus is unmistakable:  

Matthew 28:19 “Go and make disciples of all nations.

But before commanding this, Jesus promised something else:

Matthew 4:19 “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

In other words, if we will accept the assignment, Jesus will make us effective. 

2. Understand the method: life on life.

The work of discipleship requires time spent with a select few.

Consider Robert Coleman’s words on how Jesus prioritized His calendar:

“The time which Jesus invested in these few disciples was so much more by comparison to that given to others that it can only be regarded as deliberate strategy. He actually spent more time with his disciples than with everybody else in the world put together. He ate with them, slept with them, and talked with them for the most part of his entire active ministry. They walked together along the lonely roads; they visited together in the crowded cities; they sailed and fished together on the Sea of Galilee; they prayed together in the deserts and in the mountains; and they worshiped together in the Synagogues and in the temple.”

Coleman goes on to say, “One living sermon is worth a hundred explanations.”

Although, Jesus never neglected ministry to the masses, He was hyper focused on ministering to a select few.

3. Stop making excuses. 

“I don’t have time.”

Did you know that the average person in our country eats 21 meals a week? Why not plan some of those meals with people you want to disciple? Jesus did. Every instance of Jesus making disciples in the gospel of Luke involves him at, going to, or coming from a meal.

We’re all busy. Yet somehow, we always find a way to make time for what’s important. If discipleship was important to Jesus then it must be important to His followers. 

“I’m not capable." 

Discipleship is not about your capability; discipleship is about your availability. Right after Jesus commanded us to go and make disciples, He immediately followed up with a reassuring promise that should silence our insecurities: “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

“I don’t know how.” 

Don’t let that stop you. The simple truth is: we learn by doing. When I first started making disciples at the age of 19, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I called it a “Bible Study” but now that I think about it, a better description would’ve been “a small group of people talking about the Bible who didn’t really know much about the Bible.”

Despite my ignorance, God chose to bless and was pleased by the effort.

4. Have a plan in place.

If you’re plan for discipleship cannot be duplicated then it probably needs to be evaluated. Whether you decide on a book, curriculum, or Bible study, it is imperative that you give the people you choose to disciple something that they can turn around and give to others. This is what II Timothy 2:2 is all about.

Here are a few discipleship resources that I’ve found helpful and that can be easily duplicated. Several of which are free.


The 2:7 series by the Navigators[2]

Secret Church studies by Dr. David Platt[3]

The Real Life Discipleship Training Manual

Anything from Brainerd Baptist Church’s website[4] 


"Growing Up" by Robby Gallaty

"Born to Reproduce" by Dawson Trotman

"The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren

"30 Days to Understanding the Bible" by Max Anders

"The Master Plan of Evangelism" by Robert Coleman

Despite what your plan is, have a plan and work the plan!

5. Just do it.

When our lives are over, Jesus will not welcome us into Heaven saying:

“Well thought.” 

“Well said.”  

“Well learned.”

Instead, He will say, “Well done.”

Now let’s get moving. We’ve got work to do!


[1] I am indebted to J.D. Greear for these 5 suggestions. They come from a sermon he preached from the “Start” series called “The Mission: making disciples.”




AuthorJeremy Woods

It’s the reigning heavyweight champion question of the world…

Why does God allow suffering?

Why does God allow the 8-year-old Rwandan child to grow up watching his family and friends be slaughtered by a government-backed genocide? Why does God allow the 18-wheeler to T-bone the mini van, resulting in the deaths of innocent children? Why does God allow the unsuspecting teenager to be abused, raped and left with emotional scars that will haunt them for the rest of their life?

Why, God? Why?

These are real questions being asked by real people. You may be one of them.

At some point or another, every person faces the problem of pain. No one receives a free pass. In all likelihood, you are currently coming out of, walking through, or going into a time of suffering – and the only way you will stay anchored is by having some soul strengthening convictions related to God’s love, power and purposes.

In John 11:1-46, we see a firsthand look at how Jesus, God in flesh, relates to suffering. In short, one of Jesus’s closest friends named Lazarus falls deathly ill and ends up dying. After which, Lazarus’s two sisters, Mary and Martha, just can’t understand why Jesus allowed this to happen. Jesus eventually shows up and raises Lazarus from the dead.

However, between the time of Lazarus's death and resurrection, we see three realities that empower us to face suffering with hope and courage.

Reality #1 - Jesus loves us through our pain.

The Bible does not provide an answer for each experience of pain… But it does tell us what the answer can’t be – It can’t be that Jesus doesn’t love us. [1]

This is huge because if we’re honest, we’re not really after an explanation for our pain; we’re after a companion in our pain. We’re not comforted when the doctor walks in and explains that cancer is the reason we’re suffering. No, we’re comforted when someone who loves us is there to hold our hand and support us through the cancer saying, “I’m here for you.” So here's the irony: we’re not really searching for an answer as much as we are the Answerer. This is exactly who we have in Jesus.

Consider how John 11 portrays Him. When Mary and Martha sent for Jesus they said, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.”[2] Then in verse 33, when Jesus finally shows up and sees them suffering, it says that he was deeply moved and greatly troubled. So much so that He literally shed tears over the situation. As he did, the people who were watching said, “See how he loved him!”[3]

There are a lot of different things we could feel toward God during pain, but one thing He never wants us to feel is that He is absent and that He does not care. And when we reflect upon Christ’s bodily incarnation and bloody cross, how could we? The reason why he came and died is because He loves us.

Reality #2 - There is a purpose behind our pain.

Pain becomes a problem when we wrongly assume that there is no purpose to it. Yet, when we do, something like this races through our minds: “If evil appears pointless to me, then it must be pointless.”

Some of the Jews who watched Lazarus suffer and die thought this very thing: “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” Mary and Martha even confronted Jesus saying, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”[4]

But how reasonable is it for us to think this way?

Imagine that you’re on a camping trip and are concerned that some random bear decided to walk in your tent and take a nap. You could very easily determine if this happened by simply glancing in your tent. However, let’s say you wanted to determine whether or not a chigger (southern slang for tiny little insect that likes to bite people) decided to fly in your tent. This would be much more difficult to determine since chiggers are very hard to see. But just because you couldn’t see them doesn’t mean they’re not there.

Suffering is no different. Just because you can’t see the purpose of suffering doesn’t mean there isn't one.

Although, we can’t always tell why it is that God allows us to go through painful times, we can say for sure that He is infinitely wise and that there is a divine purpose behind our pain – even when we don’t see it.

C.S. Lewis said it well: “There’s always a card in his hand we didn’t know about.”[5]

Reality #3 - For the Christ follower, death marks the end of pain and the beginning of eternal joy.

In verse 23, Jesus tells Martha, “Your brother will rise again.” Right here, Jesus is not only referring to Lazarus’s earthly resurrection but also his heavenly resurrection. He’s telling us that the hope every Christ-follower has in heaven greatly surpasses the suffering we must face on earth.

Actually, Jesus placed himself on the hook of human suffering so that our sufferings might result in everlasting joy. Death no longer has a sting because Jesus absorbed that sting for us.

Therefore, we can and should join the Apostle Paul in declaring that the "sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." [6]

As Saint Teresa put it, “In light of heaven, the worst suffering on earth, will be seen to be no more serious than one night in an inconvenient hotel.”


[1] Tim Keller talks about this in his wonderful book, The Reason for God.

[2] John 11:3

[3] John 11:36

[4] John 11:37, 21, 32

[5] A Grief Observed, 67.

[6] Romans 8:18

AuthorJeremy Woods


Before anything else, I must make clear that the doctrine of hell absolutely breaks my heart. So much within me wishes that this dreadful place were only a myth left to the imaginations of some. Everything within me wishes that no person would go there.

But tragically, that just isn't the case. Jesus spoke much about love and heaven but He also spoke much about wrath and hell. Which is why we should no more believe His teachings about heaven than we should His warnings about hell.

Over the years we have developed a lot of different opinions about this difficult doctrine. Ask five different people about hell and don’t be surprised if you get five different answers. Nevertheless, one of the questions about hell that continues to haunt our generation is this:

“Why would a loving God send people to hell?” 

Now, on the surface, this question seems completely fair. However, when you take a closer look, it becomes clear that this question (and others like it) assume some blatantly wrong things about God. Therefore, in order to offer a response that reflects the gospel and cuts to the heart of the issue, we must filter questions like this through what the Bible actually teaches.

Left to itself, the question, “Why would a loving God send people to hell?” is held together with two very misguided assumptions about God.

 And here they are…

 Wrong Assumption #1 – God’s character consists of nothing but love.

So the objection usually goes something like this: “I believe in a God of love!”

But if you think about it, that’s not a whole lot different than a person saying, “I believe in a tree of leaves!” Wait... You what?

That sounds ridiculous because we all know that trees are made up of more than just leaves. Even though leaves are an essential part of a tree, they do not represent the sum of a tree. Anyone who asserts otherwise clearly doesn't know very much about trees.

Similarly, even though love is an essential part of God’s character, love does not represent the sum of His character. For example, the God of the Bible is a God of love and justice, grace and truth, mercy and wrath.

By failing to recognize this basic truth about God, we end up cherry picking the attributes of God that make us feel good (love) and tossing out the ones that don’t (wrath). When we do this, God then becomes nothing more than a human invention created for the purpose of satisfying our self-absorbed preferences.

Furthermore, to the person who says they believe in a God of love, but not judgment, the question could be asked: where did you hear that God is loving? As Tim Keller has pointed out, there is “no other religious text outside of the Bible that” says that “God created the world out of love and delight.”[1]

So when a person insists on saying that God is loving, there’s really no way for them to get around the fact that the same source of truth that describes God as loving also portrays Him as a just and upright judge.

Others might say, “Love and wrath contradict each other.”  However, the opposite is true: love without wrath is a contradiction.

Think about someone who you deeply love. If in fact you love this person, then it’s only natural for you to be angered by the decisions they make and habits they form that will destroy them.

If this holds true for flawed imperfect human beings like us, why would it be any different for a perfect and holy God? God is a good Father who loves us and because he loves us, He is rightfully angered over the habits and decisions we make that could destroy us.

Becky Pippert put it well when she said “God’s wrath is not a cranky explosion, but his settled opposition to the cancer of sin which is eating out the insides of the human race he loves with his whole being.”[2]

Wrong Assumption #2 – God sends people to hell. 

God sends no one to hell. On the contrary, God’s heart is that all might be spared from hell.

Consider the following verses…

Luke 19:10 (ESV) 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

1 Timothy 2:3–4 (ESV) This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

2 Peter 3:9 (ESV) The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

So, the question naturally follows: if God wants all to be spared from hell, why doesn’t he? Great question.

However, just because He can does not mean that He should. For example, just because a guy is capable of forcing a girl to have sex with him does not mean that he should. We’ve got a word for that and it’s called rape.

Isn’t it ironic that we are quick to make a villain out of a man who would force himself on a woman but we are just as quick to make a villain out of God when He doesn’t force Himself on us? If we discourage a man from forcing himself on a woman who didn’t love him, why is it that we encourage God to force Himself on people who don’t love Him?

God would actually be far less loving if He did this. Especially when you consider what the joy of heaven is all about: unbroken intimacy with God. However, to someone who rejected God, this would be anguish.

Here’s why... Think about someone who you’re really jealous of. Now, imagine being locked in a room for one year, with not only the person you envy, but also a bunch of other people who think the world of that person. How miserable would this make you?

This is what heaven would be like for a non-believer. Miserable.

That's why its fair to say that hell is the result of rebellious sinners, consumed with jealousy toward God, getting what they want: for God to just leave them alone. But it is absolutely not the result of God treating them unfairly.

As C.S. Lewis has said, “Hell is the greatest monument to human freedom.”

If we really want to appeal to fairness, we should ask another question, why would a just and holy God send his only Son to endure the hell of the cross for people who didn’t deserve it?


[1] Timothy Keller, The Reason for God, p. 84

[2] Rebecca Pippert, Hope Has Its Reasons.

AuthorJeremy Woods