Sin is the principal issue in your disciple’s life. Man was designed to love and to be loved, sin prevents both. It has estranged him from God and alienated him from others. It has opened his life to the dark force of shame; a shame that prevents him from drawing near to God and prohibits him from building authentic relationships. When man lives a detached existence his behavior becomes unstable, erratic, and often self-destructive as he explores ways to attach to others and to belong.
As a discipler, one of your first concerns should be to gain an understanding of your disciple’s perspective of his sin, the cross of Jesus, and his relationship to it. There are even those who grew up in Christian homes and gospel centered churches that have not been able to apply the gospel to their lives. Pride and disbelief will cause your disciple to make himself the exception to the rule by believing that he has sinned beyond the patience of God. He must humble himself and acknowledge that he can do nothing to pay for his sin. His forgiveness is a gift from God because of his mercy and love.
The truth of the good news of Jesus is best learned and experienced in the context of a loving relationship with a parent or a discipler. The parent/discipler provides an environment of love and forgiveness which illustrates the gospel for the disciple as he explores the gospel and applies its truth to his sin.
A couple of closing thoughts:
- Most people (including believers) will never have anyone talk with them about their sin and the application of the gospel to their lives. If you do not discuss it with your child or disciple probably no one will.
- Just because someone has “made a profession of faith” at some point in his life does not mean he believes he is forgiven by God today.
- Your disciple’s behavior, rather than his words, is an indicator of his understanding of the gospel. (Is your disciple comfortable with God? Does your disciple love others well? Does your disciple receive love well? Is his life style contradictory?)
- Our God is love. Our message of the gospel is love. Our love for one another is an expression of the gospel. Love is a reliable test of a person’s understanding of the gospel.