The Discipleship Gospel By Bill Hull & Ben Sobels

ISBN: 978-0998922607
READ: May 2018
RATING:  7/10

Exclusive Offer for my Audience: Sample before you order, you can download a free sampler here and get the bonus material: "Five Days of The Discipleship Gospel".

Summary: This book takes on the heart of the Gospel. Is it really grace by faith alone? If so, what does that mean with respect to our following Jesus? Hull & Sobels shine light on the common belief that following is a Gospel “add-on”. The result is an important book, because, the Gospel you preach determines the disciple you produce. I enjoyed this well-written book, but it does get repetitive. There's a glaring hole in this book as well...what about Paul's communication of the Gospel? It's very different than Jesus' communication that Hull & Sobels focus on. I wish they would have dealt with that because while they say this isn't a Gospel-add on, the silence on the Pauline Gospel makes it more difficult to fully embrace. 

Chapters: Introduction Part 1 – The Gospel Jesus Preached 1.The Discipleship Gospel 2. Wait, What is the Gospel? 3. The Essential Elements of Jesus’ Gospel Part 2 – The Gospel We Preach 4. Preach the Kingdom 5. Proclaim Jesus as the Christ 6. Disciple Unto Death and Resurrection 7. Follow Jesus and Be Saved 8. Repent and Believe the Gospel Part 3 – The Disciples We Make 9. Finally! A Gospel Definition 10. Discipleship Begins in the Pulpit 11. From the Pulpit to the Pew 12. Discipleship is Evangelism 13. Creating a Disciple-Making Movement 14. Bringing It Down to Earth 15. Developing Your Plan


pg. 10, “…the primary Gospel preached in America today, by default, is the ‘forgiveness-only Gospel,’ which is almost exclusively focused on sin and atonement.”

pg. 10, “Behavior in this ‘gospel’ is in no way connected to this initial transaction. As long as your barcode is correct—beep—you’re allowed into heaven.

pg. 10, “Our purpose in this project is twofold. First, we introduce the problem with preaching non-discipleship gospels that don’t call people to be disciples. As such, these false gospels don’t lead people to make disciples.”

Part 1 – The Gospel Jesus Preached

pg. 15, “The true gospel is Jesus’ gospel, which he referred to as the ‘gospel of the kingdom’ (Matthew 24:14), and this gospel was crystal clear to the early church (Acts 2:14-41).”

pg. 15, “As we rediscover this together, the key component of Christ’s gospel that we’re missing today is this: Christ doesn’t call us to make a decision about the gospel, but to be disciples because of his Gospel.”

Chapter 1 – The Discipleship Gospel [a.k.a. The Kingdom Gospel]

pg. 18, “The Kingdom is holistic: you enter a new realm where ‘all things are to become new’ (2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV). When you start following Jesus, you begin to prove you believe what he says.”

pg. 18, “Simply put, we are believers first, and we deepen our beliefs through the practices, traditions, and habits of our lives.”

pg. 19, “One thing is clear: following Jesus is an actual, existential behavior that demonstrates the reality of our faith in him (James 2:14-20).

pg. 19, “When you decide to follow Christ, you enter a new realm, a new kingdom, where his will is done.

pg. 19, “…Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was martyred for his faith: ‘Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.’ A faith that isn’t lived out through action is not faith; it’s a life without Christ.”

pg. 20, “It’s impossible to separate belief from action.”

pg. 22, “Jesus, however, was a contrarian by nature.

pg. 23, “…the kingdom of God is where God’s will is done.”

pg. 23, “The church’s greatest barrier toward thriving today is that she believes in distortions of the gospel.”

pg. 24, “In other words, both of these gospels have a fatal flaw—they separate conversion from discipleship, this making discipleship optional.”

pg. 24, “You can’t make a Christlike disciple from a non-discipleship gospel. The gospel you preach determines the disciples you make.”

pg. 24, “…Dallas Willard once quipped, ‘We have not only been saved by grace, we have been paralyzed by it.”

pg. 25, “The spread of this gospel will come from ordinary people with the authority of the gospel.”

Chapter 2 – Wait, What is the Gospel?

pg. 30, “No, Jesus’ gospel called people to follow him no matter the cost and without conditions and excuses—to the end.”

pg. 30, “This book has two underlying assumptions….The first is that you cannot make Christlike disciples from a non-discipleship gospel.”

pg. 31, “The second underlying assumption is that the gospel you preach determines the disciples you make.”

Chapter 3 – The Essential Elements of Jesus’ Gospel

pg. 34, “As such, the ancient idea of gospel, or Good News, is a declarations (Psalm 96:2-3).

pg. 34, “…there are four declarative statements to the gospel, which are about who Jesus is and what he has done.”

pg. 34, “The second aspect of the gospel is Jesus’ imperative statements that call for our response to the gospel. They are how we should act when we hear the gospel.”

pg. 35, “Unless we respond to the Good News, we haven’t accepted it.”

pg. 35, “It’s impossible to have a gospel without a call to action.”

pg. 37, “That is, we can hear the declarative statements of the gospel, but if we don’t repent, believe in the gospel, and follow Jesus, we won’t be saved! It’s disruptively simple.

pg. 37, “For Jesus’ audience, the Good News was that God’s kingdom was at hand—it had arrived here on earth!”

pg. 38, “For two years, Jesus proclaimed that ‘God’s kingdom was at hand’ before he revealed the three other declarative statements of the gospel.”

pg. 40, “From Mark 8:27-31 onward, Jesus spent his time almost exclusively with the Twelve, teaching them the true cost of discipleship (Mark 9:30-31).”

pg. 40, “…how can we know for certain that the three elements revealed in Mark 8:27-31 are truly essential elements of Jesus’ gospel?”

Part Two – The Gospel We Preach

pg. 47, “One way to summarize the essence of Jesus’ gospel call is to simply say, ‘Follow Jesus!’ As such, declaring that Jesus is king and calling people to follow Jesus summarizes the gospel of Jesus.”

Chapter 4 – Preach the Kingdom

pg. 49, “The very first thing Jesus said about the gospel was, ‘The Kingdom of God is at hand’ (Mark 1:15). This was not only the first, but also the last topic he taught. In Acts 1:3, after his resurrection, Jesus spent forty days with his disciples teaching them exclusively about the kingdom of God! The Gospels record that Jesus referenced God’s kingdom more than one hundred times during his public ministry. It was his favorite topic.”

pg. 51, “God’s kingdom is God’s rule….Our definition of the kingdom of God is this: the kingdom of God is the restoration of God’s rule over all things.”

pg. 54, “Wherever Christ is ruling, there the Kingdom of God is.”

pg. 55, “As one disciple maker said, ‘Only disciples can make disciples.”

pg. 56-57, “Jesus commanded us, as his followers, to seek first the kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33). The kingdom was the first thing Jesus spoke about when he began preaching the gospel, and it’s what he is calling us to seek first even now.”

Chapter 5 – Proclaim Jesus as the Christ

pg. 61, “To declare Jesus as the Christ is to believe his is the Son of God, God’s one and only Son.”

pg. 61, “’Christ,’ then means, God’s anointed King.”

pg. 61, “To proclaim Jesus as the Christ, then, is to also understand that Jesus is the one about whom all Scripture is written and the one who fulfills all Scripture.”

pg. 62, “If we truly believe that Jesus is the Christ, it has massive implications on our lives. For starters, it means that we surrender our lives to Him as our king, seeking to obey all His commands (Matt. 28:20).”

pg. 62, “Obedience is critical for salvation, which means that it’s essential to the gospel.”

pg. 63, “…to say that a person doesn’t need to obey Jesus to believe in him, as some people in our day say, is nothing short of a gross misunderstanding of what the Bible teaches about the gospel and about salvation. If you declare Jesus to be the Christ, you are issuing a call to obey him as king.”

pg. 64, “The distinction between Peter’s confession and the demons’ recognition suggests that we can know Jesus is the Christ intellectually but not believe him personally.”

pg. 64, “The best way for us to come to know Jesus as the Christ is through discipleship.”

pg. 65, “At its core, discipleship is being with Jesus—as we spend time with him, our knowledge about him becomes our experience of him.”

pg. 67, “As we obey Jesus’ command to be disciples who make disciples, he is with us and we are with him.”

pg. 67, “Discipleship, which is intentionally learning to live and love others like Jesus with other Christ followers, not only gives us the opportunity to learn that Jesus is the Christ, but it also gives us the opportunity to experience his presence and his power as the Christ.”

Chapter 6 – Disciple Unto Death and Resurrection

pg. 70, “A common characteristic of many non-discipleship gospels is that they ask people to have faith in Christ’s death, but stop short of calling them to die to sin each day.”

pg. 71, “Their belief in Christ’s death impacts their daily life because they’re learning to deny themselves and take up their cross daily. This is called following Jesus.

pg. 71, “People who preach these me-centered gospels effectively rush through ‘the Jesus part’ and focus on the ‘what’s in it for me’ part. I get forgiveness for my sin; I get to go to heaven when I die—it’s all about me. But the discipleship gospel isn’t about me; it’s about Jesus.”

pg. 72, “Christ’s death is the catalyst for the restoration of God’s rule over all things in heaven and on earth, especially for those people who follow him.”

pg. 77, “But the Bible clearly teaches that if you don’t obey Jesus, you’re not following Him….If you don’t do what he says, don’t trick yourself into thinking you’re following Jesus.”

Chapter 7 – Follow Jesus and Be Saved

pg. 79, “The most crucial element of the discipleship gospel is the imperative call to follow Jesus. The non-discipleship gospels being preached today do not include following Jesus at all—not one of them. As soon as following Jesus becomes an optional add-on to the gospel, it’s a death sentence for disciple-making.”

pg. 83, “Jesus is calling us to follow him with neither conditions nor excuses—to the end.”

pg. 85, “We’re not saved by works, but God has saved us for good works. More than that, God himself has prepared thee good works for us, and he also calls us to ‘walk in them.’”

Chapter 8 –Repent and Believe the Gospel

pg. 89, “The Gospel is protected by the preaching of repentence which calls sin sin and declares the sinner guilty.” -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

pg. 89, “The gospel demans a response from us, which is the call to follow Jesus.”

pg. 91, “The word ‘repent’ involves the idea of radical change of mind and heart….a fog of grey has descended upon the church today with respect to whether or not repentance is critical to obey.”

pg. 94, “Like two sides of the same coin, repentance and belief go together. They are the first steps of following Jesus.”

pg. 97, “Modern-day belief can have the appearance of godliness, but it lacks power to change someone’s life (2 Timothy 3:5).

pg. 97-98, “Christians have convinced themselves that they believe in disciple making, even though they’re not making disciples.”

pg. 98, “…Christians today think they can believe in Jesus without acting on it.”

Part Three – The Disciples We Make

Chapter 9 – Finally! A Gospel Definition

pg. 111, “The discipleship gospel makes it clear that Christ’s call is nothing less than following him.”

pg. 111, “Following Jesus is an active process; it involves doing what he says, not just hearing it.”

pg. 113, “First, our gospel definition reminds us that when you listen to the way people talk about being a disciple, many of them-even prominent leaders in disciple making movements—make it sound like you can be a Christian and not be a disciple. But a Christian and a disciple aren’t two different things; they’re one and the same.”

Chapter 10 – Discipleship Begins in the Pulpit

pg. 116, “We’ve chosen to direct our words specifically to pastors here because if anyone needs to know and do these things in the church, it’s pastors.”

pg. 116, “What does it look like to be a disciple making church? To start, a disciple making church has a clear definition of the discipleship gospel, as we have been saying. If this isnt’ the starting point, the church is doomed for failure from the start. A gospel that calls people to be disciple and make disciples is the only thing that continues to empower disciple making in the church; it’s the only sustainable fuel for disciple making in the church. If you try to keep it running on anything else—hype, a pastor’s charisma, a great curriculum, etc.—it will run out of gas—guaranteed. Remember that the gospel you preach determines the disciples you make.”

pg. 120, “Some pastors have convinced themselves that making disciples is preaching sermons, shepherding people through births, weddings, and funerals, and keeping all the programs of the church running. This is different though, than what we see Jesus doing in the Gospels. Jesus preached and ministered to the crowds, but he also intentionally discipled a few by spending significant time with them. In fact, the longer Jesus ministered, the less time he spent with the crowds, and the more time he spent discipling a few.”

Chapter 11 – From the Pulpit to the Pew

pg. 127, “All four Gospels were written with a similar purpose—to disciple us into believing in and living out the gospel. The result is that we are equipped to follow Jesus.”

pg. 130, “Developing a written statement identifying the purpose for each ministry and how each relates to making disciples is critical if you’re going to crack the discipleship code in your church.”

Chapter 12 – Discipleship is Evangelism

Chapter 13 – Creating a Disciple-Making Movement

pg. 139, “You might have noticed how many people have mastered everything about the Great Commission—except how to obey it.”

Chapter 14 – Bringing it Down to Earth

pg. 149, “…many lead pastors insulate and delegate. They insulate themselves from the congregational life of discipleship, which they most often do by delegating the actual work of discipleship to staff or laity.”

pg. 152, “Whether or not you’re a pastor, the work of making disciples is long and arduous.”

Chapter 15 – Developing Your Plan

pg. 159, “This brings up a sticky questions, ‘Why don’t churches require discipleship for membership?’ The reason is because it would be impossible to enforce.”                                                           

pg. 160, “Your plan, then, should be shaped and evaluated by how effective it is at deploying well-trained, Spirit-filled members into all domains of culture.”

Disclaimer: My copy of The Discipleship Gospel was provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.