Pushing back the boundaries


Welcome to our course, "Being Disciples".

We hope these studies will be a help to your faith and a source of encouragement. This course was developed with the following needs in mind:

  • To encourage growth in Christian maturity;
  • To provide a grounding in the life and ministry of the Church, and
  • To train leaders.


That complete emancipation from the destructiveness of sin
and full restoration of relationship with God
has already been accomplished
and made available to all who believe in the Cross of Christ.[1]

That the secret of the ages is that
God supplies all we need to live the Christian life
through the Spirit of Christ living within us.[2]

Discipleship then is essentially
a matter of new priorities -
putting God and his ways first in our lives.[3]

[1]Romans ch.6 [2]Colossians l:27 [3]2 Corinthians 4:18

Our priority is to do with things of eternal value,
rather than the things of this world which are perishing.

From this we take our theme, "Pushing back the boundaries",
experiencing new freedom in our relationship with Jesus.

The following scriptures are foundational to building this priority


"And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works so that no one can boast." (Ephesians_2:6-9)


"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Ephesians_2:10)


"I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit, apart from me you can do nothing." (John_15:5).


"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' All the law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew_22:37-39).


"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, even to the very end of the age." (Matthew_28:20).


"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." (Proverbs_3:5-6).

What a relief! - Christianity is not a religion of self effort! It is not trying to seek acceptance or acknowledgement through our achievement. No, it is a relationship with our creator based on faith in his son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

A disciple then is a person who is inwardly motivated by the Holy Spirit to follow Christ, and is identified with Him through -

Discipleship therefore is not static, but a continual growth process throughout life. The Christian faith is unique. It is his strength working in us through the Holy Spirit, who brings us to peace with God and the accomplishment of his purposes in our lives.


As a part of the Body of Christ, we need to clearly understand the mission of the Church. It is important that we are not confused at this point, otherwise we are at risk of being side-tracked. The Church today is Jesus' arms, hands, and legs etc, as such her mission is the mission of Jesus today.

The central purpose of Jesus ministry is recorded in Luke_4:18, as follows:

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour."


It is important that we retain our freshness, creativity and originality as we grow as members of God's family. Recognising our part as a member of the church is to discover an exciting gift of God to the Christian. However it is also vital that we don't allow submission to group dynamics to plunder our uniqueness, causing us to adopt religious vocabulary, jargon and mannerisms which are not natural to us.

We gladly submit to the working of the Holy Spirit in the body of Christ (the church), but we must also be careful that the church is not forcing rules of behaviour onto the new Christian which have nothing to do with God's expectations and commands. God accepts us as we are and meets us where we "are at". He does not demand that we conform to the behavioural norms of a particular church culture before we are accepted.

Wherever possible we should encourage Christians to use everyday language and to take the church back into their environment (home, work, school, clubs etc).

We need to avoid the risk of setting up a religious club or adopting a siege mentality, where we limit our friendships and involvements to church activities and church ways.

We are commanded to go out into the world and be sign posts; to be "salt and light" wherever we are - not to be religious 'weirdos'. We are to be true to God by living a seven day Christian life, to bring glory to God as other friends and acquaintances lift their respect and aspirations about God - because of what they see in us. This is not meant to be a struggle for the Christian, but a great opportunity to demonstrate how wonderful the Christian life is. A life being lived out by means of God's power working through us. We have this great friendship with God which shows!


The culture of many communities have been greatly affected in the longer term by whether or not they have experienced significant Christian revival. This can create problems as well as present benefits to the new Christian.

On the 'down side', a culture not affected by revival can result in people being very private about their faith and easily embarrassed about publicly owning the idea of God. This may be reflected an independence which brings a 'go it alone' attitude. This makes it much harder to learn dependence on God and acceptance of His ways.

This explains any cultural propensity to " cut down the tall poppies" and to seek security in behavioural norms which accept moral flexibility and laugh at bending the rules. The so called 'eleventh commandment': 'thou shall not get caught', brings with it an insensitivity to the reality of a God, who sees all and cares about the detail of our lives.

The idea of moral standards and respect for godliness may therefore be foreign to a natural (non-Christian) outlook. This brings intrinsic problems for the new Christian. Our reason for sharing this is to encourage anyone struggling with growing pains in the faith - by knowing that some of our struggles may be the effect of a national trait, not just a personal characteristic which is uniquely our problem.

Recognition of things as they are may help you to press on towards overcoming such limitations, rather than risk giving up under a sense of condemnation. It's not a matter of thinking, "I'm just like that". Rather it's a matter of praying "God, please help me to become what you want me to be. " It's a matter of being willing to be the clay with God the potter. If we haven't yet reached this point of willingness, then we can simply pray: "God, please help me to be willing to be made, for whatever you want." Apply this in the practical situation where our faith is being stretched.

On the other hand, people without Christian background have advantages which can be a help in making progress in our faith. Being fresh to the faith can result in one being straightforward, coming to the point and not hiding behind ceremony or formality. Being open with God about what we are really like - being honest in expressing our faults and needs - will greatly help our spiritual development. Openness helps us to overcome sin and wrong attitudes. In any case, we can't deceive God - only ourselves and others. From this perspective, we have a wonderful opportunity to launch into the Christian faith in a dynamic way, freshly discovering the beauty of a wonderful, vibrant personal relationship with God.


We encourage you to study this chapter in preparation for the course. This will provide an orientation to the overall objectives of the course and prepare you for your first unit.

We want to keep this course practical, so there is an application "hands on" aspect to each unit: From experience we often see God bring to our attention teaching relevant to our current circumstances.... followed by a practical situation where we can put the specifics of the teaching into practice. This is important, otherwise we will only gain "head knowledge" - and never "own" the new teaching for ourselves. We can't affort to have a second hand faith!. Be prepared to be surprised by the experience of God's activity in your life this way!. Through this practical application of God's ways in our circumstances, our faith grows like one building block on another.

Spend time using the homework to meditate on the themes assigned. Pray for the inspiration and leading of the Holy Spirit as you 'tap' into the scripture passages. Make journal entries of what you learn, and what thoughts are important to you.

If you come across concepts or ideas which seem too hard, leave them to one side for the time being.... and come back to these at a later time.

Our part is to follow through with what God is teaching us. What is important in the Christian life is what is happening in the next 'five minutes', living one day at a time. This is where our attitudes and obedience are forged.... making God the priority in our lives! If "it doesn't seem to be working", think back to the last thing God asked you to do, and follow through with that instruction.


It is vital that this course is approached in a wholistic way. We are to love God with all our "heart, soul and mind". We must learn to listen to God so that we mature spiritually as well as intellectually. God's ideas and inspiration must lead to transformation of our lives and behaviour. We need to respond to God with a whole "hear" not just increase our head knowledge.

We are glad you are participating in this course
as appropriate to your Christian journey.

We are sure it will be profitable to you.
Now, let's get started......


UnitRecap & TeachingReading the BiblePrayer & Worship
1Introduction -
Salvation & Assurance
Authority of
the Bible
Overview on
2Going on with Christ,
being a part of the body
How to read
the Bible
Overview on
Confession &
3Introducing the
Holy Spirit
Various ways to
read the Bible
Overview on
4Sharing our faithAids to reading
the Bible
Overview on
prayer for others
5Values & prioritiesExamples of
finding Bible passages
Overview on
prayer for yourself
6Kingdom valuesQuestion TimeThe Lord's prayer

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Created on: 28 August 1997 Last updated: 28 August 1997