YET ANOTHER WORD ABOUT DISCIPLESHIP.
I want to re-visit a topic that is the passion of my heart, that is what I call “Biblical Discipleship”. Let us look at the last words of Jesus recorded in Matt. 28:18-20 NKJV These words are called THE GREAT COMMISSION.
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
N.L.T. Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
PASSION Then Jesus came close to them and said, “All the authority of the universe has been given to me. Now go in my authority and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And teach them to faithfully follow all that I have commanded you. And never forget that I am with you every day, even to the completion of this age.”
MESSAGE Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”
The Greek word for DISCIPLE IS matheteuo which means “to become a pupil”, or enrol as a scholar to instruct and to teach. So, a person who wants to become a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ is one who sits at the feet of a teacher (disciple-maker) for as long as it takes to become a disciple of Jesus.
I am sure not against “mass evangelism” and thank God for great men like Billy Graham, but to become a disciple of Jesus, means so much more than going forward in a meeting and make a “decision” and pray a prayer .It would seem many times for many people it is a journey that may take days, and weeks (and longer) until that experience of being born again takes place in the person’s life, and only then does Discipleship start to really take place.
Although the Matthew verses were spoken to the “disciples” it is generally believed that THE GREAT COMMISSION IS GIVEN TO EVERY BELIEVER IN EVERY GENERATION UNTIL JESUS RETURNS. In Acts 6:4 NKJV we read the Apostle said “But we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word. The Teaching and Ruling Elders, have a specific ministry to gives themselves to prayer and the Word of God, included in their teaching ministry should I am sure include the teaching and training of Disciple-makers.
It is recorded that it wasn’t that long before all the believers in Jerusalem (except the Apostles) left Jerusalem and began to travel all over the known world, not because persecution had broken out, but I sincerely believe they knew they had to go and share the Gospel to every person they could.
There is nothing in the Great Commission that says we must get people to make a decision, but that we are to MAKE Disciples, which we see is quite a process.
I do concede as in my own case, when I knelt at an altar to pray as a 10 year old boy, many when they pray and confess and repent, are soundly born again, but I also am very aware that for many it is a “pilgrimage”, and they often pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” many times before they know they are born again.
In so much of 21st century evangelism, it seems the emphasis is all about “making a decision”, and then that person is often simply left to there own devices, like throwing a baby into a swimming pool and telling it to swim! There may not be such a word as pre-discipleship” but immediately a person makes that “decision” someone should come along side that person, and help them until they know because know they are born again, John tells us in 1 John 5:13 NKJV These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may KNOW that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
Sadly, many people are told when they make a “decision they are now a Christian even though they not not have that ASSURANCE in their heart.
So this is where I believe Discipleship starts, that the person must come to experience and KNOW WITHOUT A DOUBT as Paul describes in 2 Cor. 5:17 NKJV Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. That they can also say with Paul in Col. 1:13 KJV Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
Then the new Believer needs to be taught about the ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS TO DAILY PRAYER, and the Disciple-maker walks with him until they become a relationship with God lifestyle.
Then the new Believer needs to know (experientially) that through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ he has received an inheritance NOW. Eph. 1:11 NKJV In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.
Included in that inheritance is the glorious fact found in 2 Peter 1:3 NKJV As His divine power has given to us ALL things that pertain to life and godliness.
We still have an enemy (satan) and a sinful nature, but when we continue to embrace our inheritance in Christ NOW we can live holy and victorious lives.
There are MANY components for example relating to THE ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS TO DAILY PRAYER, and THE BELIEVER’S INHERITANCE NOW, plus so much else that the new believer needs to know and embrace, this all takes time but when a Disciple-maker has the training and experience and patience and time the end result will be a QUALITY DISCIPLE FOR THE LORD JESUS CHRIST WHO IN TURN WILL BECOME A DISCIPLE-MAKER