Stage 1 Training Content
Post #5 040622
In previous posts we discussed the stages of training that Jesus’ Apostles and talmidim (disciples) passed through. The four Gospels depict there were four stages. We will deal with only the first two stages in this post#5. As review of the two stages:
Stage 1 – This is training in the “basics”. This was done in the home and synagogue school. The Apostles/disciples came with a high degree of religious training. The depth of this training was discussed in a previous post # 3 and we shall discuss it later in other posts. Jesus had nothing to do with this training phase and the Gospels indicate Jesus probably went through similar training being from a conservative Jewish family.
Stage 2 – this was a “come and see” and “follow me” stage. It began at their first meeting Jesus at John the Baptist’ baptizing site east of Jerusalem at Bethany across the Jordan (John 1:28). Five men who later were chosen by Jesus as Apostles began to follow Jesus (Andrew. Peter, Philip, Nathanael and John) as well as Barsabbas and Matthias (Acts 1:23). Those that followed Jesus had to decide if he was the promised Messiah just as we have to repent and receive Jesus as our personal savior today. This was an evangelistic phase for his Apostles as it would be for us today prior to our ‘born-again’ experience. This stage lasted about 14 to 20 months and took place primarily in the Galilee region of Israel. Many followed Jesus on a sporadic basis – not full time. They followed Jesus and he put them into ministry service as they considered if he was the Messiah or not.
The Church Age Begins
So, the Apostles/disciples walk 100 plus miles back to Jerusalem after Jesus’ Ascension from the mountain in Galilee and they waited as He had instructed. A group of about 120 came together in Jerusalem and include many of the women that had ministered to Jesus and also his mother, brothers (had 4 brothers Mark 6:3) and probably his sisters. (See Acts1:14) They waited and prayed for 10 days until the Feast of Pentecost. On that day the Holy Spirit came with power and many Jews (about 3000) were regenerated and received faith to believe he was the Messiah. They repented and received Jesus as their Messiah, Savior and Lord – they had a ‘born again’ experience. They were baptized indicating their new life as a disciple of Jesus. These new disciples of Jesus were from many geographic regions of the Roman empire – a very strategic point for dispersing the Gospel.
Note: their baptism was not how they gained their salvation (eternal life) but indicated their break from Judaism, and all its rules and standards, to a new life in Christ with a new and different set of Christ standards. (These standards we will discuss in a future post.) Our water baptism is/was a sign to others (believers/non-believers) of our new life and being united with Christ. Our forefathers’ thought baptism was the means to gain our eternal life. Not so! The Bible indicates we gain our eternal life by the regeneration of our minds by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5). The Holy Spirit executes God’s call or drawing of us to Christ (John 6:35-40: Ephesians 1:3-14: 2:8-9). The Holy Spirit extends God’s grace to us to believe (faith – Ephesians 2:8-9). With this faith we repent and receive Christ as our Lord and Savior and are adopted as God’s children and become an infant disciple of Christ – see Post #1.
What was unique about these 3000 new Jewish believers? They came with spiritual disciplines and Biblical knowledge or Stage 1 training “built-in”. Briefly a summary of the “basics” from Post #3.
- Read/study Torah daily as it was an act of worship.
- Scripture Memorization – Great portions of the first 5 books of the OT memorized and especially the SHEMA (Duet 6:4-9) and much of the oral law.
- Mediation -had been taught to mediate on scripture from 5 years of age or before.
- Fasting – practiced fasting with family
- Prayer – they knew a multitude of prayers from family and synagogue services
- Could Read – they had been taught to read Hebrew in their synagogue school even though the local language was either some Aramaic/Syrian dialect or Greek.
- Basic theology about God and his love for the nation Israel
- Synagogue attendance
The discipleship of a Jewish male at the time of Jesus started in the family at birth. At age 6 more rigorous training was added in the local synagogue school in conjunction with the family. By age 13 or 14 they were made a formal member of the local synagogue. This was the completion of their Stage 1 training. At age 13 or 14 the young man became a member of the local synagogue and began his work life. His religious education continued at the local synagogue or he could become a disciple (talmid) of a rabbi or he could attend one of the scribal schools in Jerusalem. The majority began their work life.
Stage 1 Content or Practices – The Forgotten Stage
For us in the USA the elements for Stage 1 training should be at least the eight elements previous stated. The elements should include:
(1) Quiet time that includes: prayer, Bible study and keeping of a spiritual log-book/note book
(2) Scripture memory
(3) Scripture meditation
(5) Basic theology
(7) Personal Testimony – Gospel presentation
(8) Church attendance
These are the basic elements for Stage 1 discipleship. It is the formation of the basic disciplines (habits) resulting in life management with the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit. These are the disciplines with which Jesus’ early disciples/followers came — built-in! They came with an understanding of Torah commands and the standards to managed their lives according to the oral law and Torah.
Small Groups, Intentionally and Accountability
New believers that come into our USA churches today do not come with the same qualifications. They have to be train to exercise these practices – otherwise they remain in an infant or at most a young child stage of a disciple (see Post 1). Development of spiritual disciplines must be done intentionally with accountability and in small groups in your local church. This is the forgotten stage in the development of disciples for Christ! These elements should be practiced throughout our entire lives (a habit of our daily lives) with accountability to a small group or another person or persons on a continuous basis.
Stage 1 Training Content or Material of Stage 1
Thus, we have identified the eight elements (at a minimum) and should be carried out in the local church. Now the question is when/how you start, who starts, who will be the participates, what material do you use, how often do you meet and the duration of Stage 1 disciple training?
All of these are very good questions. Each question requires a separate discussion in future posts. First a definition of authentic discipleship or making of disciples for Jesus – what is it?
Of the eight elements the foremost is to help a person have a quiet time. Why? It is important to establish the quite time habit early so an individual can put Bible content into their mind which can be used by the Holy Spirit for conviction purposes to transform their thinking and behavior resulting in life management. Life management is an objective of Stage 1 discipleship. Development is through a small group in a local church with accountability.
- We have developed the understanding of the religious training of the early Jewish believers and the content which we call Stage 1 training in the “basics”.
- Using this Jewish training understanding we have defined what Stage 1 training would be for us in the USA today. At a minimum 8 elements.
- We have defined what authentic discipleship is about – an intentional wholistic process that continues throughout our lives that impacts all facets of our lives.
- Of the eight elements the foremost is to help a person have a quiet time.
Application: Do you and I have consistent quite times. How is the Holy Spirit leading you (me) at this time?
Scripture Memory: 2nd Timothy 3:16 – 17.
Next: More detail discussion of elements in Stage 1
Future posts: Questions of when/how you start, who starts, who will be the participates, what material do you use, how often do you meet and the duration of Stage 1 disciple training.