Discipleship involves learning what kind of person God is.

When you are going through the discipleship process, you will be introduced to the contents of God’s character. You might want to spend some time on the existence of God and the Knowledge of God as well. Here are some more lessons I consider to be the second task of the Teacher in the Discipleship process.

Lesson 9 – The Existence of God

We should spend some time in the discipleship process explaining why people deny God’s existence. The Bible says that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:18-20 ESV)

If you have someone who is struggling with how the existence and denial of God can show up in someone’s life, I recommend getting a copy of “The Faith of Christopher Hitchens” to share. It has some amazing insights into this issue.

Here is a picture of the cover for you:

The Faith of Christopher Hitchens: The Restless Soul of the World's Most Notorious Atheist  -     By: Larry Alex Taunton

_______________

Lesson 10 – The Knowledge of God

We need to help people understand how God presents Himself to us in the Bible.

“Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”

(Jeremiah 9:23-24 ESV)

There are actually three ways we can know the LORD in the Bible. The first way involves His name and his titles. His name is Yahweh and he has a lot of titles like Elohim, El Shaddai, and Adonai, just to give three examples from Scripture.

In addition to this, God also uses word pictures as a second way. In the Bible, God presents Himself as a lion (see Hosea 5:14). This means God is going to act like a lion towards the people that Hosea spoke to and wrote about (as a warning for us to avoid living our lives the way that they did).

The third way in the Bible is to use words to describe Himself to us. These words are listed below in Lesson 11.

_______________

Lesson 11 – The Character of God

God’s most well known attribute is love (see 1 John 4:8).

There are 24 other attributes that dictate how God shares his love with us. When we are making disciples, we should try and help people build bridges in their minds between God’s love and the 24 attributes that God uses to deliver his love into our lives.

Love is not an attribute of God. Love is all the attributes of God (combined).

#1. God is Independent.

“Who has first given to me, that I should repay him?” (Job 41:11 ESV)

“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” (Acts 17:24-25 ESV)

When we are busy making disciples, we need to help them see how God’s independence and love are connected. We need to help them see that God’s independence means nothing or no one can prevent Him from supporting His people.

__________

#2. God is Unchanging.

“Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end.” (Psalm 102:25-27 ESV)

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17 ESV)

We need to help disciples learn the answer to the following question: “What is the connection between an Unchanging God and His love?” The things that God loved in the past are not any different from the things God loves today. He is completely consistent, which means we never have to wonder if he will say He approves of us today, only to change his mind tomorrow.

__________

#3. God is Eternal.

“Behold, God is great, and we know him not; the number of his years is unsearchable.” (Job 36:26 ESV)

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8 ESV)

“What is the connection between God’s eternal existence and His love?” The impact this has on our lives can be seen when we realize that God can see every moment of our lives at the same time. Yesterday, your live was full of corruption that He despised. Today you will have a choice to clean up some of that corruption, and you will probably fail. Tomorrow you will be in a better position than you are today, even if you fail to make progress today. God’s perspective on your life is not defined by your current failures because he can see your past, present and future together.

__________

#4. God is Omnipresent (everywhere at the same time).

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” (Psalm 139:7-10 ESV)

“And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17 ESV)

God is listening to conversations happening all over the world. Today, he might ask you to go and do something in response to a conversation that you did not get to hear. When we are making disciples, we need to help them learn to be disciplined to speak so we can fill in the gaps of a conversation He heard while we were busy somewhere else.

__________

#5. The Unity of God.

“The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6-7 ESV)

The different aspects of God’s personality all blend together. What I mean is that God is able to love and hate at the same time. If God loves His Church, He hates things that threaten His Church. His love and hate co-exist.

__________

#6. God is (a) Spirit.

“Then the LORD spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of words, but saw no form; there was only a voice.” (Deuteronomy 4:15 ESV)

“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24 ESV)

The very best that God has to offer is not available to us in the world. Because God is a Spirit, we do have to leave this world in order to enjoy the full extent of His love. In this world, we have to endure suffering, but there is another place where suffering cannot touch our lives. It is in the “afterlife” that we will be able to enjoy the full extent of God’s love. The obstacles that can hurt us while we live on earth will one day be removed and the confusion we sometimes experience will be gone forever.

__________

#7. God is invisible.

“But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” (Exodus 33:20 ESV)

“No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:12 ESV)

Sometimes God cannot be understood. We can only see a small part of Him clearly, and we should be humbled by this. Discipleship involves learning to bear the humiliation of being a very small part of invisible realities that we know very little about. Sometimes His love requires Him to say no to us when we make requests because there will always be things we are not aware of that make some of our requests bad for us.

__________

#8. God is all knowing (omniscient or omniscience).

“Do you know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge…” (Job 37:16 ESV)

“for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.” (1 John 3:20 ESV)

Discipleship involves learning to interact with invisible realities. There are times when we need to interact with God intellectually and emotionally. Sometimes God wants to share information with us about the kind of choices we need to make, and there will be other times when He touches our lives emotionally to encourage us. A disciple is someone who is learning how to recognize a small part of an all knowing God’s way of thinking. This involves learning to be emotionally prepared to suffer as a result of the information He shares with and withholds from us about our current circumstances.

__________

#9. God is wise.

O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” (Psalm 104:24 ESV)

“…to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.” (Romans 16:27 ESV)

I really like the way Wayne Grudem explained this aspect of God’s character in his Systematic Theology book: “God’s wisdom means that God always chooses the best goals and the best means to those goals.”

Sometimes God’s love and wisdom will make Him choose methods that can accomplish His goals by keeping us safe from things that we would not recognize as being “dangerous.”

__________

#10. God is faithful and true.

“And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3 ESV)

“For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” (Psalm 100:5 ESV)

There are many different religions in our world. These religions were developed in order to find protection from evil spirits. People began developing communities of faith to learn how to avoid getting the attention of the “gods” who inflict pain and suffering on people they disapprove of.

The problem with these other religions is that we need the angry “gods” to explain themselves to us. They have to interact with us in order to win our cooperation. The Bible, however presents a God who is not angry that he has to interact with and pay attention to us. The “gods” worshiped in other religions hate people, and they lie to manipulate their followers on a regular basis, but the God of the Bible is different, He is good to us.

__________

#11. God is good.

“You are good and do good; teach me your statutes.” (Psalm 119:68 ESV)

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11 ESV)

The gods of other religions merely tolerate their followers. The moment someone becomes disobedient to their “god” you find out how real fast how deeply their hatred of humanity is ingrained in their essence. To give one example, there are hungry people who ask Allah for food as a reward for their loyalty and receive nothing because Allah is never good to anyone.

Discipleship involves learning to recognize that the God of the Bible is different from Allah and all the other “gods” that people worship around the world. When we ask the God of the Bible for help, He answers our cries for help and provides help while Allah and the other “gods” ignore the loyalty of their followers.

__________

12a. God is merciful.

“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” (Psalm 103:8 ESV)

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort…” (2 Corinthians 1:3 ESV)

The other gods worshiped around the world have no mercy. They become angry when they have to pay attention to their followers who are asking for help. They prefer to remain distant and indifferent, but the God of the Bible does not behave that way. The God of the Bible has mercy on those who ask for His help. Discipleship involves learning how to celebrate the difference His love makes.

__________

12b. God is gracious.

“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” (Psalm 103:8 ESV)

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10 ESV)

The “gods” of other religions are always quick to be angry when they are misunderstood and disobeyed because they are not gracious. They have no love to share in exchange for their follower’s loyalty.

__________

12c. God is patient.

“The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,” (Exodus 34:6 ESV)

“Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4 ESV)

The God of the Bible is the only spirit worshiped who has patience towards people. When the “gods” that are worshiped in other religions are questioned and/or disobeyed, they immediately become angry and violent, which says a lot about their lack of character. This lack of character is not true of the Christian God.

__________

13. God is holy.

“For I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” (Leviticus 11:45 ESV)

“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14 ESV)

God is holy. Holiness represents purity, the absence of anything impure or evil. The deeper a person’s personal devotion to the pursuit of holiness becomes, the more clearly it will be to understand how God thinks about our lives and our world. Making disciples involves helping other people along their pursuit of holiness.

__________

14. God is Peaceful.

“Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly.” (Psalm 85:8 ESV)

“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints…” (1 Corinthians 14:33 ESV)

God has a calming effect on his people. This peace does not mean there will be an absence of conflict in our lives. A proper understanding means that we will be okay, no matter how bad things get. The worst thing that could happen to someone in this world is to suffer, but the hope of the Resurrection creates a peace of mind that transcends the worst kind of suffering. Helping people become mentally and emotionally prepared for the worst possible outcome is a huge part of the discipleship process.

__________

15. The Righteousness (or Justice) of God

“The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.” (Deuteronomy 32:4 ESV)

“I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘Seek me in vain. I the LORD speak the truth; I declare what is right.” (Isaiah 45:19 ESV)

The righteousness of God can be hard to understand at times if we assume that God will never allow our lives to be vulnerable to pain and suffering. The truth is that allowing pain and suffering into our lives allows God to expose the depth of the corruption that exists in human nature. One day, everyone who inflicts pain and suffering on others will be held responsible, and knowledge of that should encourage us to trade our lives in this world for the hope of the Resurrection. That kind of trade off is the goal of discipleship.

__________

16. The Jealousy of God.

“You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me…” (Exodus 20:5 ESV)

It may sound strange to think of God being jealous, but the simple truth of the matter is that He is unwilling to share our devotion with anyone or anything else. Being a disciple means that there is no room for anyone or anything else as our highest priority. To state it simply, you can ask a disciple what is their highest priority in life is and he or she will tell you the answer is God. When you ask them what their second highest priority in life is, the disciple will tell you “I do not have a second priority in life. Or a third, or a fourth priority…because God is jealous.”

__________

17. The Wrath of God.

“And the LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.” (Exodus 32:9-10 ESV)

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” (Romans 1:18 ESV)

When we are making disciples, the wrath of God can motivate us to have mercy on an unbelieving world who hates us. There have been millions who understood the significance of the wrath of God, and as a result they choose to be tortured to death in the hope that the people who murdered them might one day find the truth about Jesus Christ and escape the wrath of God themselves. Making disciples means we are helping new believers become willing to trade their lives in this world so that the people who mistreated them might live long enough to discover the grace of God.

__________

18. The Will of God.

” …the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” (Daniel 4:32 ESV)

“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will…” (Ephesians 1:11 ESV)

God makes choices about how human history unfolds. God makes plans that we can choose to follow (or not). Discipleship involves learning how to live in agreement with the plans He has made.

__________

19. The Freedom of God.

“Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” (Psalm 115:3 ESV)

“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.” (Proverbs 21:1 ESV)

All of the ancient “gods” were constantly fighting to reward their followers and punish their enemies, and the people who were loyal to them were suffering in the process, but the God of the Bible never participated in those ancient struggles as anyone’s equal, none of the ancient deities were equal to Him.

__________

20. The Omnipotence of God. (all power-ful-ness).

“Is anything too hard for the LORD?” (Genesis 18:14 ESV)

“For nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37 ESV)

Every “god” in other world religions lives in fear of how powerful the Christian God is. The spirits responsible for maintaining all non Christian religions live in fear that Christians who understand the difference in strength will challenge them to a fight for their follower’s loyalty.

__________

21. The Perfection of God.

“This God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.” (Psalm 18:30 ESV)

“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48 ESV)

God has everything all of us will ever need. If you are discouraged, God can compensate for that. If you are lonely, God can compensate for that. If you are being mistreated, God can compensate for that. Discipleship involves learning how to embrace this aspect of His character.

__________

22. The Blessedness of God.

“…he who is the blessed and only Sovereign…” (1 Timothy 6:15 ESV)

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17 ESV)

God enjoys seeing a pure reflection of Himself in our lives. Discipleship involves learning how to make choices that can maintain a pure reflection of Himself in our lives.

__________

23. The Beauty of God.

“One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4 ESV)

When people see who God is clearly, they will find a beauty in God’s character that is worth suffering and dying for. This has motivated millions to trade their lives in this world for the hope of the Resurrection when they were forced to choose between living in this world or leaving this world to meet Jesus.

__________

24. The Glory of God.

“Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory!” (Psalm 24:10 ESV)

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23 ESV)

There is a light that shines around the visible presence of God. This light is his glory, and one day, everyone will see the glory clearly. For now, the glory’s presence is limited to anywhere the Church is.

__________

Lesson 12 – The Trinity

In Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV) the Bible says the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit share the name of God (YHWH):

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Passages like this have motivated Bible scholars to embrace comments like this one from Wayne Grudem:

“We may define the Trinity as follows: God eternally exists as three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and each person is fully God, and there is one God.” They also share all 24 of the characteristics listed above.

_______________

A Final Thought

If you want to help people understand the attributes of God, then I want to recommend “Unveiled Grace” by Lynn K. Wilder. Here is a picture of the book for you:

Unveiled Grace by Lynn K. Wilder

Unveiling Grace: The Story of How We Found Our Way Out of the Mormon Church  -     By: Lynn K. Wilder