Lifelong Discipleship: Loving and Following Christ for Life

By Tom Virtue


  • To Know: The connection between God’s work in salvation with His on-going work in our lives in discipleship
  • To Feel: Gratitude for the guarantee and promise God’s work in our lives being based on His character of finishing whatever He starts, not our faithfulness
  • To Do: Determine the next step in surrender to Christ and seeking His kingdom first

Before meeting:

If possible, give these instructions before you meet. If that’s not possible, read through the verses together. 

  • Read Galatians 2:20, Romans 5:5-7, John 3:5-7, and 2 Corinthians 5:16-20. 
  • Reflect for 10-15 minutes and journal using these prompts: 
    • What phrases and ideas are powerful for you as you read these? 
    • What image comes to your mind? Draw that image.

Introduction & Connection (7-8 minutes)


  • Briefly describe your connection with your grandparents.
  • What did you observe them doing or practicing that was a part of their lives over the long term?  Describe a situation with your grandparents (or if appropriate, another older person) when you were influenced by something they were very consistent in that it had become a part of their life. How did that impress you or shape you as you watched them?

Today we’re going to talk a bit about being disciples for every day until the end of life.

Salvation Sets the Stage for Discipleship (10-12 min)

If they have read the verses and have some thoughts, ask the following questions. If not, move on to #2.  
    • Let’s start by reviewing some of the things that took place in us and to us at salvation (Gal 2:20, Rom 5:5-7, John 3:5-7, 2 Cor 5:16-20)
    • What phrases and ideas are powerful for you as you read them?
    • When you put them together what image comes to your mind? Draw or describe that image.
If they haven’t been able to read ahead of time or only have a couple observations:
  • Cover at least 4-5 items below to lay a good appreciation for what God has done in salvation. These things were accomplished – are already done. List more items as you discuss together.
    • We died with Christ which means we are identified with Him, our personal identity of who we are has become wrapped up with Jesus. (Gal 2:20)
    • We were forgiven and freed from sin. The power of sin is broken but not destroyed in our lives. (Gal 2:20, Rom 5:5-7) 
    • We were born by the Holy Spirit, God the Spirit came to live in us. New life was planted in us by His Spirit that gives us connection to a life source that’s brand new. (John 3:5-7) 
    • God adopted us as His children into His eternal, worldwide family. 
    • God gave us a new identity, not by wiping out who we are as we’re born, but by creating a whole new place in us by planting His life in us. (2 Cor 5:16-20) 
    • God invited us into what is on His heart – seeing reconciliation between Himself and the world. He formed a partnership with us. 
    • God expressed His pleasure (grace and mercy) to you and to others. 

    • Ask: What are the top 2 thoughts that connect with you and give you hope and encouragement?

Discipleship Never Goes Beyond Abiding in Jesus (8 min)

Read this short section together:

In John 15 Jesus talks about “abiding in” Him in the context of using a vine as the illustration of what it means to abide. It’s clear He’s implying being connected to, drawing resources from, having life flow within that comes from the branch who is the source. As we seek to be disciples of Jesus, we never get beyond abiding in Jesus. That’s true for as long as we are physically alive. If we ever feel like we’re off track in following Jesus, in our discipleship with Him, we get back on track by coming back to abiding in Christ not by performing in some way. Discipleship is loving and following Jesus. He is the source of life, and we can’t generate any real life apart from Him. 

It’s also true that discipleship is always in the context of a battle, difficulties, and struggle; there is constant warfare. Abiding in Jesus doesn’t imply the absence of struggle and pain. In fact, it is guaranteed that there will be battle if you follow and abide in Jesus. It’s good to be ready for that while having the amazing assurance that one outcome will be that you are becoming more like Christ. (Read Ephesians 6:1-10 later.) 

“Discipleship is not a contract in which if we break our part of the agreement He is free to break His; it is a covenant in which He established the conditions and guarantees the results” (Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience).