Conversion & Discipleship - by Bill Hull

Conversion & Discipleship

By: Bill Hull

ISBN: 978-0310520092
READ: December 2016
RATING:  7.5/10

Summary: In this book Hull attempts to lay out a theology of discipleship. He begins with the premise that the Gospel you preach determines the type of disciple you’ll make. Thus, conversion and discipleship are inextricably linked. He offers a view of six different gospels that are predominantly preached in today’s world and the type of Christ follower that results. Most of the book is unfolding his Kingdom Gospel and giving a defense of that. For me the gold of the book is in the last few chapters when he examines the implications to our lives and ministries. Perhaps a reflection of me more than the book, but getting to that gold took more time than I’d like, thus 7.5/10.

Chapters: 1. The Gospel. 2. The Call. 3. Salvation. 4. The Holy Spirit and How People Change: Part 1. 5. The Holy Spirit and How People Change: Part 2. 6. Ways and Means 7. The Church 8. The Pastor 9. The End

Chapter 1 – The Gospel

The Gospel we preach will determine the type of disciple we produce.

The Gospel We Preach Determines the Type of Disciple We Produce

“Our doctrines of grace tend to keep us from clearly defining what it means to be a disciple. We tend to treat the experience of conversion as something entirely separate from the process of becoming a disciple.” pg. 21.

“You see, the Gospel we preach will dictate the result; the content of what we preach will lead to the kind of person created.” pg. 21

“[the forgiveness gospel] tends to foster vampire Christians. They only want a little blood from Jesus for their sins, but want nothing more to do with him until heaven.” pg. 34.

“[the left gospel] is empty of real hope because they have abandoned the heart of the true gospel: that Jesus is God incarnate, that he is alive and active today and that his truth is the only thing about Christianity that is truly relevant.” pg. 35

“The consumer gospel is also quite popular….it promises to provide everything a person on the go needs: convenience, speed, sound-bite theology, and instant results. Since impatience is the besetting sin of America, the consumer gospel replaces the slow and difficult path of authentic spiritual maturity with methods and programs that give fast and easy results. As a bonus our since are taken off the table and the deeper life of discipleship is optional, something we can pursue if we have time….This gospel creates disciples who shop for a church until they find one that meets their needs.” pg. 36-37.

“[the religious right] tends to prioritize correct doctrine, adherence to a rather narrow moral code, and the exclusiveness of truth. It advocates separation from the culture, although some forms seek to transform culture into having a Christian worldview….This gospel tends to create disciples who lead a partitioned life that is separated from the people they are called to reach.” pg. 37

“[the kingdom gospel] is the proclamation of the rule and regin of Christ over all of life….Entrance has always been the same. Jesus has invited us to follow Him, and He is the entrance to the Kingdom. So start walking!” pg. 39

Chapter 2 – The Call

There is a fourfold call that Christ gives us: 1. Come and See. 2. Come and Follow Me. 3. Come Be with Me. 4. Remain in Me. pg. 50.

We can see that Jesus’ teaching is much more relational and process oriented, rather than categorical and transactional. His focus is on process much more than belief. pg. 50

“What about those who say no to Jesus? If a yes to Jesus puts someone in a position to learn from him how to believe then a no means not being able to believe. As long as Matthew stayed in his booth, or James and John in their fishing boat, they could not learn from Jesus in the way that would transform them. Saying no has real consequences.” pg. 51.

Jesus asked for a demonstration of just enough faith to begin walking with him. pg. 51

“A developing faith is not flawless faith. Discipleship is realistic, not idealistic.” pg. 55

“He calls all of his disciples, and he lays out the same demands and requirements. But he makes allowances for our individual ways of learning and uses our entire lifetime to develop our faith. We become disciples at conversion, when we answer the call of Christ to follow Him. Then we spend the rest of our lives becoming in reality what he called us to be.” pg. 55

The ONE question Robert E. Coleman would ask the church in America it would be, ‘What is your excuse for not obeying Christ’s commission to make disciples?’” pg. 57

“When Satan enters the church he tries to pull the church away from the cross.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“We live in a culture that encourages us to develop our entire lives around our selfish desires.” pg. 61

“The Gospel of John is sometimes called the Gospel of belief because he uses the word ‘believe’ more than thirty times.” pg. 64

“Belief leads to action. True belief described in John eats, drinks, walks, hears, follows, obeys, and bears fruit.” pg. 65

“In other words, where are our pressure points? Does our loves of comfort, money, or family keep us from obeying Jesus? Alan Stanley sums it up this way: ‘Where large crowds or the twelve are present, Jesus lays down general conditions for becoming a disciple. Yet when Jesus is addressing the individual, the conditions are specific and varied. In other words, Jesus personalized the cost of discipleship according to what He knew to be the priorities of a person’s heart.’ Jesus gets at the root of our disbelief and disobedience. What keeps us from following Him?” pg. 66

Chapter 3 – Salvation

“Our conversion is rooted in learning how to repent and change the way we live. The purpose of the discipleship process is to create loving, Christ-like people who live for others. Disciple are not trophies to be admired; we are servants who are to love people like Christ does.” pg. 87

“When we teach a form of discipleship that does not result in reproduction, we miss the mark.” pg. 87

Instead of asking, how are you doing? We should be asking, how are you doing at loving the people God has put in your life. pg. 87

“I’ve met many church people who are willing to admit they are sinners, but if pressed, they can’t name a sin they have committed.” pg. 93.

“Divorcing the process of discipleship from salvation has required people to create other solutions to the problem of sin in the Christian life.” pg. 94

“When Jesus calls a man to become a disciple, he is in no instance asking him to accept the free gift of eternal life. Instead, he is asking those who have already believed to accept the stringent commands of discipleship and find true life.” pg. 96

Chapter 4 –The Holy Spirit and How People Change Pt. 1

“In the long run, only disciples are converts.” –Gordon Fee

“Yet, today it is rare to find pastors or churches who expect much from their members….Not many churches expect their members to be knowledgeable of the Scriptures, nor do they honestly expect members to witness, bring others to the Christian faith, and discipline new converts to reproduce as well. We have set the bar quite low. We do not expect growth and we certainly don’t expect reproduction.” pg. 106

“Rather than accommodate the teaching of Scripture to our experience, it is better to simply admit that people who live like non-Christians are likely non-Christians.” pg. 111

Chapter 5 –The Holy Spirit and How People Change Pt. 2

“We will only grow into maturity as followers of Christ if we develop and follow a proactive plan that promotes growth. So why is this so difficult for so many people? I’ve found that the idea of having a training plan and exercising self-discipline to follow it puts people off.” pg. 125

“[on 2 Tim 2:2] To do this work, Timothy needed qualities that were not native to his soul. He needed the dedication of a soldier, the discipline of an athlete, and the patience of a farmer.” pg. 126

“Timothy must have a plan or structure for his own learning and for teaching others….In other words, discipline is a grace that requires structure, planning and effort to fully receive.” pg. 126

“Self-control is the steady capacity to direct yourself to accomplish what you have chosen or decided to do and be, even though you don’t feel like it.” Dallas Willard. pg. 132

“I find it most helpful to think of spiritual disciplines as like the exercises we do to improve our physical well-being. Some disciplines will work indirectly like running, which changes the physiology of the body. The muscles burn energy, the lungs expand to take in increased oxygen, and the heart pumps harder. Over time (several weeks), the muscles grow stronger, the lungs have more capacity, and the heart’s ability to pump blood increases. The runner did not directly will the muscles, heart, and lungs to become better; this happened indirectly. The runner willed to run to attain the desired result but also gained greater general health. Spiritual disciplines work in a similar way.” pg. 136

“With His enabling power, we much train our will by changing the way we think (our ideas), what we want (our images), and our feelings (our emotions). We do these things by engaging in the spiritual practices that God has prescribed for us (1 Tim. 4:7). Over time these disciplines lead to habits that affect both our attitdues and our behavior (Heb. 5:11-13).” pg. 138

Chapter 6 – Ways and Means

“If you make disciples, you will always get a church. If you start churches, you may not get disciples.” Mike Breen pg. 141

“Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not whether they be clergymen or laymen, they along will shake the gates of Hell and set up the kingdom of Heaven upon Earth.” John Wesley pg. 142

“The ways of Jesus goes about loving and saving the world are personal: nothing disembodied, nothing abstract, nothing impersonal. Incarnate, flesh and blood, relational, particular and local. The ways employed in our North American culture are conspicuously impersonal: programs, organizations, techniques, and general guidelines, informational, detached from place. In matters of ways and means the vocabulary of numbers is preferred over names, ideologies crowd out ideas, the gray fog of abstraction absorbs the sharp particularities of the recognizable face and the familiar street.” Eugene Peterson pg. 143

“Jesus spent 90 percent of his life with just a few ordinary people. Jesus knew the rhythms of ordinary life, for he lived in obscurity for thirty years before his public ministry, and he values the ordinary, the common, and the every day. As Peterson says, ‘The way of Jesus is not a sequence of exceptions to the ordinary, but a way of living deeply and fully with the people here and now, in the place we find ourselves.” pg. 145

“Jesus’ way of discipleship begins with his personal knowledge and awareness of his disciples.” pg. 151

“Jesus’ plan was to involve his disciples in whatever he was doing.” pg. 152

The people who are humble and contrite always received good treatment from Jesus. pg. 164

“Jesus was willing to disappoint hundreds of disciples for the sake of his mission.” pg. 165

“The key to his [Jesus’] mission’s success is expanding the disciples’ responsibilities. But Jesus didn’t send them out to just find new workers. He sent them out to learn how to minister, to practice all the skills they needed for future ministry. Until now they had mostly watched and observed. Now they needed to learn by doing.” pg. 166-167

“Only by changing our desires, our thinking, and our habits can we become the kind of people who will be able to resist temptation. The same is true in discipleship. We learn to become like Jesus by adopting the practices, disciplines, and exercises He followed, such as solitude and silence, prayer, fasting, worship, study, honest fellowship, and missional work.” pg. 169

Chapter 7 – The Church

“The real question for a disciple is this, ‘How are you doing loving the people God has put in your life?’ The goal of spiritual maturity is not self-improvement. It is transformation into people who live to love others.” pg. 174

“Around the world the worst failure of churches has been the alarming disparity between what Christ is like and how his disciples turn out….The goal of churches in reproducing disciples of Jesus is to enable those disciple to reenter the world and demonstrate a higher quality of life and a level of skill in presenting Jesus in word and deed that will penetrate the natural resistance of unbelieving souls. The people of God are to love the world like Jesus does, in concrete and sacrificial ways that crush arguments and pretensions of unbelief.” pg. 174-175

“The governing assumption today among professing Christians is that we can be ‘Christians’ forever and never become disciples.” Dallas Willard pg. 177

“The church we want is the enemy of the church we have.” Eugene Peterson pg. 179

“The quality of our worship—our awe of God and what he has done—will be most evident in the life we live. A life of worship is a life of sacrificial discipleship, giving ourselves as a living offering to God.” pg. 182

“Thinking you can disciple people through sermons is like going into a nursery, spraying the newborn babies with milk, and claiming you have fed them.” –Avery Willis pg. 184

“So the responsible measurement of a leader’s work is this: does he or she produce effective ministers out of common saints?” pg. 190

Chapter 8 – The Pastor

“Classically there are three ways in which humans try to find transcendence: through the ecstasy of alcohol and drugs, through the ecstasy of recreational sex, through the ecstasy of crowds. Church leaders frequently warn against the drugs and the sex, but, at least in America, almost never against the crowds. Probably because they get so much ego benefit from the crowds.” Eugene Peterson pg. 201.

“It’s the hard thing we must do to find out if we are really into disciple-making for the long haul. Start small. Disciple a few. And you will reveal the state of your soul as you open your life up to others.” pg. 203

“If we have no plan, there is no chance of discipleship happening. There will be no fruit.” pg. 204

Chapter 9 –The End

“The thesis of this book is that all who are called to salvation are called to discipleship. There are no exceptions, and we cannot offer excuses.” pg. 219

“We must make no mistake about it. In sending out his [disciples], he set afoot a perpetual world revolution: one that is still in process and will continue until God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven.” Dallas Willard pg. 220

“The church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became man for no other purpose.” C.S. Lewis pg. 221

“In order for any revolution to succeed, it needs to be perpetually reproducing.” pg. 225

“I believe that before the church can take over the world, Christ must take over the church.” pg. 227

“The way we bring change is to be his disciples and to make disciples. What elevates making disciples above all else is the reality that only our churches can do this. If we don’t make disciples, no one else will.” pg. 230

“All who are called to salvation are called to follow Jesus as his disciples. No exceptions. No excuses. Jesus held nothing back and neither can we.” pg. 232

“Pastors should be evaluated and rewarded based on how many disciple-makers they produce and what kind of people their church sends into the world.” pg. 233