Frequently Asked Questions
The Jackson Institute’s online Information Desk provides answers to commonly asked questions, instruction in the use of our online resources, and general assistance in navigating your path to spiritual maturity in Christ.
WHAT IS THE JACKSON INSTITUTE?
The Jackson Institute is a leadership development organization whose mission is to contribute to the cultural, intellectual, and spiritual formation of individuals who are on a passionate quest to be welcomed, received, and acknowledged by God. We seek to foster life transformation in Christ as a passionate response to the Great Commandment, the Great Commission, and the Cultural Mandate. Founded by John Musselman in 1991, in Atlanta, Georgia, the Institute is incorporated in the state of Georgia as a non-profit, tax-exempt (Section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code) corporation governed by its officers and Board of Directors.
WHAT ARE THE PRIMARY OBJECTIVES OF THE INSTITUTE?
An eighteenth-century author of a book on naval strategy wrote, “When you are trying to accomplish something, you should first decide what is the final objective you are seeking to attain, and then never lose sight of it” (Timothy Dudley-Smith, John Stott: The Making of a Leader, p. 185). We have seven primary objectives:
1. To engage all we are for the glory of God;
2. To help people find a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ;
3. To encourage every person to become familiar with the life of Christ as presented in the four Gospel accounts in the New Testament (e.g., as one might become acquainted with the lives of Winston Churchill, Steve Jobs, J.R.R. Tolkien, or Mozart);
4. To assist followers of Christ in becoming more like Him each day;
5. To promote Christian discipleship, encouraging mature believers to make new disciples and to invest in their spiritual formation by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, and by following the means, principles, and methods Jesus used in training the Twelve:
6. To challenge believers to develop a Christian worldview by studying the Scriptures, reading broadly, and thinking deeply about all of life under the Lordship of Christ; and
7. To train believers to effectively, lovingly, and persuasively engage the culture and marketplace of ideas with the truth and transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
IS THE JACKSON INSTITUTE A SCHOOL OFFERING DEGREES OR CERTIFICATES?
No, we are not a school and do not award any degrees or certificates. We are called to serve and support the Global Church in its mission to take the gospel to the world. Through organizational partnerships, strategic training, multiple delivery systems, responsible accountability, time-tested resources, and faithful implementation, we prayerfully engage in training faithful and teachable Christians to serve Christ and build His kingdom through multiplying discipleship.
IS IT TRUE THAT THE MATERIALS ON YOUR WEBSITE ARE FREE?
Yes. Through the generosity of Board members, Advisory Council members, churches, foundations, and friends of the Institute, we are able to make all of the digital, downloadable materials on our website available at no charge. There are many people around the world who benefit from our training and materials who would not be able to access our resources without financial assistance. All donations to the Jackson Institute are tax-exempt and accepted with sincere gratitude.
MAY I MAKE COPIES OF THE MATERIAL POSTED ON YOUR WEBSITE?
Yes. The Jackson Institute authorizes you to download, print, or store copies on an electronic device for personal or group studies but prohibits any duplication and distribution for commercial purposes.
WHAT IS SANCTIFICATION, OR SPIRITUAL GROWTH?
One of the best definitions ever written is found in the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.” Theologian J.I. Packer explains the basic meaning of sanctification in this way: “To sanctify, or consecrate, is to set something or someone apart for God, either in general and inclusive terms or for some specific purpose, and to have it, or him, or her, accepted by God for the end that is in view….We are talking about God’s work of character change in Christians; about the life of God in the soul of man; about the fruit of the Spirit; about the outworking in our behavior – our new, supernatural life – that is hid in Christ with God” (Hot Tub Religion, pp. 164-165). In his book, The Spiritual Quest, Luder Whitlock provides this concise definition: “Spiritual growth is transformation. Lives are changed from those of unbelief to belief, from ungodliness to godliness. Although our transformation will not be complete until the glory of heaven is realized, a recognizable change begins with conversion and continues throughout life” (p. 35).
WHAT COUNSEL WOULD YOU OFFER TO ME ABOUT BECOMING A MATURE AND FRUITFUL BELIEVER?
1. First, we would encourage you to know and worship the only living and true God as He has revealed Himself in the Scriptures.
2. Second, we believe it is vitally important for you to become a member of a church where the Bible is taught and the gospel is faithfully preached.
3. Third, it is equally important that you make use of the means of grace as you grow in your relationship with God. Theologian R.C. Sproul offers this succinct explanation: “In His grace and in His wisdom, God has provided ways by which we can regularly have our faith in His promises fortified. Historically, we have referred to these ways of strengthening our faith as the ordinary means of grace. Prayer, the preaching of the Word, and the sacraments are not elaborate or fancy methods of giving us what we need to confirm our trust in Christ. To an outside observer, they do not seem special at all. After all, they make use of rather common things such as human speech, bread, wine, and water. But by faith and the work of the Spirit, these common elements are used to do an uncommon work — the confirmation of our trust in Jesus and the strengthening of our wills to flee from sin and rest in Christ alone” (Ligonier Ministries website).
4. Fourth, participation in a small discipleship group will strengthen your faith and help you become a mature and fruitful believer.
5. Fifth, devote the rest of your life to learning all you can about God’s Word and God’s world in order to form a Christian worldview and to prepare yourself “to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (I Pet. 3:15). To this end, we provide numerous and time-tested resources that will help you become a mature and fruitful believer. These resources will either be located on our website, or we will provide you with links to ministries that offer the best thinking in their respective fields. Here we will only suggest a few of the categories for a lifetime of reading and study: biblical studies, theology, church and world history, apologetics, logic, science, biography, non-fiction, fiction, evangelism, missions, discipleship, marriage and family, ethics, archaeology, politics and government, law, poetry, psychology, leadership, education, medicine, etc. As you observe God’s creation and read broadly and deeply, you will soon discover that your mind, heart, and will are overflowing with a passionate love for God and an intense desire to use your knowledge and wisdom to influence and persuade others to embrace the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
WHAT IS CHRISTIAN DISCIPLESHIP?
Christian discipleship is a concentrated process that occurs when a more mature believer prayerfully enters into a committed relationship with a group of faithful and teachable believers for the purpose of building godly character, imparting true knowledge, and developing ministry skills under the direction and power of the Holy Spirit, so that they will follow Christ without reservation and do what He tells them to do.
IS IT POSSIBLE FOR ME TO LEARN HOW TO DISCIPLE OTHERS FROM YOUR WEBSITE?
Certainly, all the tools and recommended resources are here to prepare you to understand biblical discipleship. In this sense, the answer is yes. An extensive collection of materials on our website and recommended readings from our selected bibliography will help you build a solid foundation and provide practical tools for discipling others in the words and ways of the Lord Jesus Christ. On another level, the answer to this question is no. The model Jesus demonstrated was a relational model. He never wrote a book, started a school or university, or limited His activity to teaching the multitudes. For a period of approximately 3½ years, Jesus invested His life in the twelve men He chose to be His apostles. “Amazing as it may seem, all Jesus did to teach these men His ways was to draw them close to himself. He was His own school and curriculum” (Robert Coleman, The Master Plan of Evangelism, pp. 38-39). By the time of His death, resurrection, and ascension, He had completed the task of training these men in character, knowledge, and skills. These men, now transformed and empowered by the Holy Spirit, took the gospel of salvation by grace through faith to the world.
NO ONE HAS EVER DISCIPLED ME. HOW, THEN, CAN I BECOME AN EFFECTIVE DISCIPLEMAKER?
Do not lose heart. As we have ministered in various parts of the world, we are aware that finding a mature mentor can be a very difficult task, especially in regions where biblical discipleship has never been taught or practiced. In other places, experienced mentors are in short supply. So, we acknowledge your predicament. Here are four ideas that we strongly recommend for those who find themselves in this situation.
1. First, pray. Ask your heavenly Father to provide a local, experienced, and mature mentor for you.
2. Second, if you are unable to find a mentor nearby, consider finding one in another city or country who is an experienced disciplemaker and connect with them periodically – online, by phone, or meeting together when possible.
3. Third, be on the lookout for excellent training conferences/courses on disciplemaking (many fine organizations are doing this around the world) and attend the ones that come highly recommended to you.
4. Finally, in the worst possible case, (i.e., you cannot find a mentor) study the Scriptures, read everything you can find on biblical discipleship, and ask the Holy Spirit to show you how to apply what you are learning. Then, take your first step. Then, another. And, another. You may be called upon by God to be the first in a long line of disciplemakers who impact generations for Christ because you decided to obey Christ’s command to make disciples by faith. He will give you the wisdom, grace, and power to do all that He commands you to do.
I AM COMMITTED TO BIBLICAL DISCIPLESHIP. WHERE DO I BEGIN?
For years, we have recommended Robert Coleman’s classic book, The Master Plan of Evangelism, as the best place to begin building a biblical framework for Christian discipleship. In eight chapters, Dr. Coleman examines the ministry of Jesus Christ and the strategies He used to carry it out. When possible, purchase a copy with the Study Guide by Roy J. Fish and work through the thirteen lessons for a deeper understanding of following Christ’s pattern of building reproducing disciples.
HOW SHOULD I PROCEED AFTER READING COLEMAN’S BOOK?
Go to our Self-Guided Courses where you will find information about our extensive online training courses.
FOR ONGOING SUPPORT AND UPDATES, HOW CAN I SUBSCRIBE TO THE JACKSON INSTITUTE EMAIL LIST?
At the bottom of each page of our website, you will find a link to subscribe to the Jackson Institute email list.
Download a PDF of the FAQs