The Principles of Discipleship
(For the Apostolic Disciples of the Way)
The principles of discipleship employed by the Apostolic Disciples of the Way (A.D.W. or, simply: the Disciples) consist of : 1. A graduate study of the Mysteries of the Faith, and 2. guided spiritual growth. (Paul instructs Timothy that the deacons must hold the Mystery of the Faith with a clear conscience, 1 Timothy 3:9.) The Mystery of the Faith consists of seven individual Mysteries.
The seven Mysteries to be entered into, and held with a good conscience, are presented in seven graduated degrees; each degree contains seven principle truths called Wisdoms. The seven Mysteries of the Faith are:
1. The Mystery of the Gospel (Ephesians 6:19): this Mystery is a study of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
2. The Mystery of the Godhead (Colossians 2:2; 1 Timothy 3:16): this Mystery is a study of the economy of deity.
3. The Mystery of the Church (Ephesians 5:32): this Mystery is a study of the institution and workings of the corporate body of the Church.
4. The Mystery of Christ (Ephesians 3:1-6): this Mystery is a study of the one body of believers made up on both Jew and Gentile.
5. The Mystery of the Apocalypse (Revelation 1:4, 0): this Mystery brings the Disciple into the secrets of revelation knowledge.
6. The Mystery Babylon (Rev 17:5): this Mystery examines the development and history of the church of lawlessness (Matthew 7:21-23).
7. The Mystery of God’s Will (Ephesians 1:9): this Mystery researches the hidden wisdom of God’s intended purpose.
Upon completing a novitiate (the time of being a novice) the Disciple will progress through the above Mysteries in degrees; advancing in stages toward the seventh degree, which is called Perfect: ( 1 Timothy 3:6; Ephesians 4:13; 1 Corinthians 2:6; and Philippians 3:17).
Our Lord Jesus and His apostles (especially Paul) applied the Mystery model to discipleship. The writings of these first century believers utilized a vocabulary to this end, to which they applied specialized meanings. This specialized vocabulary consisted of such words as: mystery, wisdom/principles, hidden, knowledge, enlightened, novice, and perfect: (Matthew 13:10-11; Romans 16:25-26; Ephesians 4:12; 1 Corinthians 2:6-7; Hebrews 5:12 – 6:1).
Given here is a list of the specialized words and their meanings given by the writers of the New Testament.
· Mystery: a truth (secret) taught to the initiated of the faith, but concealed from the uninitiated; (Romans 16:25-26).
· Wisdom/principle: a particular component of a given mystery. (1 Corinthians 2:1-7).
· Hidden: this word when used with “wisdom” implies a truth intentionally concealed, by God, for disclosure at some future time; (1 Corinthians 2:7 compare to Romans 16:25-26).
· Knowledge: used in the sense of knowing God in His “hidden wisdom;” (Romans 10:2; Philippians 3:8; Colossians 2:3; 3:10; 2 Peter 1:5; 3:18).
· Enlightened: used for the initiated; i.e. those who had received Christian water baptism (Ephesians 1:16; Hebrews 6:4).
· Novice: used for a beginner; one who is learning the first wisdoms/principles of the Faith; ( 1 Timothy 3:6; Hebrews 5:12).
· Perfect: used for one who is fully mature – complete in the Mysteries; (1 Corinthians 2:6-7; Ephesians 4:13; Philippians 3:12-16; Colossians 2:27-28; 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
· Perfection: the state of being perfect, i.e. fully mature in the Mysteries; (Hebrews 6:1; Ephesians 5:12; 2 Corinthians 13:9).
Jesus of Nazareth, the high priest of our profession (Hebrews 3:1), established His church as the true mystery religion. It was to this end that He employed the parable as His paradigm of teaching. When He was asked why He taught in parables (Matthew 13:10-11), Jesus replied, “To you (the initiated) it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them (the uninitiated) it has not been granted.” Therefore, the purpose of the parable model of teaching was twofold: the reveal, and to conceal.
We must acknowledge, at this point, that the disciples learned their mode of discipleship from Christ. Jesus’ promise, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world,” ( Matthew 28:20b) was predicated on the command to teach “whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20a). Since the power of the living Christ was ever present with His apostles we may assume that they did indeed teach what He had taught them. Therefore, Jesus’ method of discipleship was perpetuated by His disciples. This is seen to be true, insomuch that the foundations of the mystery teaching of Paul may be seen in the model of discipleship established by Jesus Himself.
The mystery paradigm of discipleship is seen in the method employed by Jesus in the following way:
· There were multitudes that followed Him where ever He was ministering; however, this vast number of followers were mostly superficial and were drawn to Christ because of the loaves and fish: i.e. His miracles (John 6:10, 26). Nonetheless, from this multitude Jesus chose seventy whom He brought into His company. These, He taught, trained, and dispatched into the cities as the vanguard of His ministry (Luke 10:1). Now, from this number of seventy He selected twelve men (Luke 6:12-16) whom He brought into His intimacy. Into these twelve Jesus fathered an anointing to establish His church (John 20:22-23; Luke 24:45). Continuing this model of discipleship Christ then chose three from the circle of twelve whom He brought into greater revelation (Matthew 17:1-2); but, these three were required to accompany Him deeper into His suffering than all the rest (Matthew 26:36-37). The circle of disciples contracted one last time to leave but one man standing with Christ. Jesus brought this one deeper into His mission by giving him the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 16:18). This supreme honor presented awesome authority, and fearsome responsibility; but, at the same moment required a terrifying purging (John 16:12-27; Luke 22:56-60), and an uncompromising commitment (John 21:15-19).
Each time the circle of disciples contracted the revelation, authority, and responsibility increased.
Therefore, having received this model of discipleship from the Lord Jesus and His disciples, and having the understanding that some disciples are prepared only for the milk of God’s Word (1 Peter 2:2) while others are able to progress on to more solid food (Hebrews 5:14), the A.D.W. will advance the Disciple toward the degree of Perfect at a pace suited to his/her ability (and desire) to mature.
What follows is a Way of discipleship that will be applied throughout the fellowship of A.D.W. It is our sincere prayer that the initiate will enter upon these mysteries with a heart submitted to both the High Priest of our profession (Christ, Hebrews 3:1) and His holy apostolic church.
The Disciples of the Way will always conduct themselves by two directives:
1. The Prime Directive: Total conformity to biblical standards in doctrine and worship.
2. The Secondary Directive: In essentials, unity; In nonessentials, liberty; In all things, charity.
These directives will be repeated in the instructions to the novice.