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"Don't put the cart before the horse"

This is a saying as old as carts and horses. It means, don’t get your priorities out of line. It’s a handy thing to say when your kid puts sports before education, or when you notice your friend is putting his job before his Family.

When priorities get out of line, things get messy. A cart full of shiny apples is more attractive than the old mule pulling it, but if a farmer wants to make an impression at market by swapping them, he’ll only lose his apples.

When it comes to discipleship, many of us are getting the cart before the horse when it comes to teaching the Bible and learning a theology. The result is that we’re losing our disciples.

Just like a coach only has time for athletes that want to improve, I only have time for disciples who want to grow. I’ve never met a baby that didn’t want to eat and I’ve never met a new-believer that didn’t want to know more about God. But in their desire to know theology and in our desire for them to enjoy it as much as we do, we start doing something in our discipleship that makes for a mess down the road. We get the cart before the horse.

A personal trainer who suggests bicep implants because he loves his biceps and wants you to have a set like him would be out of the job. That’s because biceps are supposed to be gained with exercise and synthetic biceps are not only lame, but they look weird.

A disciple maker who suggests a batch of theologians to learn theology from is no different. That’s because theology is supposed to be gained from the Bible and someone with synthetic theology is not only lame, but… yes, they look weird. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Just like a good personal trainer teaches excercises, a good disciple-maker is going to guide that hungry disciple to the Bible. We’re going to challenge them to know their way around the Old Testament, as much as the New. We’re going to spot them on the heavy scriptures instead of spoon-feeding them into useless experts. As a result, we’ll be able to echo what John said in 1John 2:14 “…I write to you young men, because you are strong, and the Word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one”

My goal is that my disciples know the Bible inside and out. I want them to know the who, what, when, and why behind every page of scripture. I want their co-workers or class-mates to see them locked into a worn out Bible on their breaks, I want them to correct me when I cite the wrong author of a verse and I want them to cock their head to the side when someone brags about how reformed they are.

Our disciples should know theology as a consequence of knowing the Bible, not the other way around.

Jesus said “Every Scribe that has been trained for the Kingdom of Heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out his treasure what is new and what is old” (Matt 13:52)

Make them work for it. When they seek to know the God of truth by digging for it themselves, they’ll learn the value of knowing who God is. But they’ll never learn the joy of learning when we don’t let them learn. We’ll never rejoice when they discover Godly insight when we don’t let them discover Godly insight. 

When we love the Bible they'll want to love the Bible. 

So let's get the horse where it needs to be. Let's teach them the Bible. What follows will be heavenly.