So, what are we to do?
God does not ask us to seek converts, He simply asks us to do Discipleship. Discipleship is modeling and teaching Christians the precepts of the Bible-mainly prayer, doctrine, Christian living, and worship. Yes, we are still to evangelize, but that is not our main mission and call! When we evangelize, we must realize that it is the role of the Holy Spirit to bring people into an intimate relationship with God. This is an act of divine intervention and grace. He uses us as the tools, but He is the means! We are to care, and share with others His love and character. We obey and reach, but we cannot lead people anywhere. He is the One who leads!
This leads us to our role, which is to model to the convert Christ-like character, encouraging others to surrender themselves to Jesus Christ (Gal. 2:20-21). However, this is only the beginning! Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. Surrender is the process in which we grow toward Him and His will and away from our Will. Surrender is making Christ Lord of all of our life. We have to get rid of our perceptions, reckless ideas, faulty thinking, and other such things that are barriers to our growth, so we can make room for Him. Jesus authors our faith, and teaches us how to run the race according to God’s will, His glory, His worship, and His purpose. Thus, we gain a deeper intimacy with our Lord as our Commander and Friend, as our God and our King, as our Love, and our reason for being. In His purposes, we find real contentment, joy, and fulfillment.
There are three main areas or principles in discipleship:
1. Relationships and Mentoring
We are called to build a network of relationships so we can build one another up in the faith through friendship and mentoring! (fishers of men) Most people are intimidated by discipleship out of ignorance, fear, unawareness, or just not wanting to be bothered out of their “comfort zone.” The term, discipleship, has been viewed as something only for the spiritually mature, or just for certain people, such as Sunday school teachers and Bible study leaders. What we need to see is Barnabus and Paul, and, later, Paul and Timothy, where the elder, more experienced Christian takes the inexperienced Christian under his wing, and helps him to become a better, deeper, more effective Christian for God’s glory. Keep in mind that Paul was highly educated and an experienced leader, and although Barnabus may have not been educated formally as Paul was, or at Paul’s level in the world, Barnabus was Paul’s superior in the experience and knowledge of the Word. Friendship, knowledge, experience combined into mentoring, and the quality of the relationship are the keys for this spiritual growth to have happened. Discipleship equals friendship with a Christ-centered focus. However, it is very important that we make disciples in His image, not ours!
The other main principle in discipleship is teaching. We are all called, as a church, to teach one another–not only the kids in Sunday school, but also all Christians at all ages and levels–how to live the Christian life. The new Christian, (and all Christians for that matter) need sound instructions on how to live the Christian life. We do not learn by magic or osmosis. Although the Spirit will lead, it is still our responsibility to learn and grow, and then to teach others! In most churches, there are some opportunities to be in Bible studies, and even teach. The focus must be to teach the basics first–how to study the Bible, how to pray, how to worship, essential doctrine, etc And, as we grow, how to be a Christian family, how to find God’s will, our conduct in the work place, discovering our spiritual gifts, leadership, and so forth. Then, the deeper expressions into the faith can be explored, along with accountability, and so forth.
We are all called to put our faith into practice! We now take the relationships, mentoring, and learning, and carry it out in daily life. This is often expressed in service projects and missions, but that is only a small, although necessary aspect of service. Service is how we live our lives and model His character on a daily basis to those around us! When we are in ministry, we need to realize, it is not what I do, but whom I can equip. As we practice by reciprocating what we have learned to others, we will also be built up!
All three of these principles collate and build into each other synergistically. Discipleship can be skewed and people fall away if any of these three principles are let go. We will lose valuable opportunities to share and teach one another if, as Jesus stands at the door and knocks, we are watching TV and ignoring His door. Remember, the focus is never the task in and of itself. Rather, it is the glory and worship of our Lord and the enabling of one another to do and be better at the Christian life. What we learn and do here during our short time on earth will echo throughout the vastness of eternity!
Just as anyone can be a friend, anyone in Christ can disciple. We cannot expect only a select few to take up this call and imperative, and we do not need to be spiritual giants to do the work. We just need to be real in Christ, be willing to learn and grow as one of His disciples, and replicate our knowledge to others. Many people may feel anxious when it comes to reaching out, and it requires a big step of faith that many do not want to make. Therefore, the excuses pile on top and over our responsibility. That is a flaw in our human nature, our sinful nature! If we all just sit in the pew and expect someone else to reach out to others, we are slapping our Lord in the face. When no one reaches out, we are condemning others to feel and be lonely and isolated. We must reach out as a team effort, linking people with introverted personalities and who are reticent at interacting with others, with people who are more extroverted and that do not have this problem.
What is a Disciple?
A Disciple is one who models and teaches Christians the precepts of the Bible, prayer, doctrine, relationship, Christian living, service, and worship, to name the main ones.
Question: Ask yourself, “How do I, and how can I, do these:
- Have made a profession/acceptance of Faith in who Christ is and what He did on your behalf! 1 John 3:23; Acts 16:30-31
- Jesus is Lord of all! 1 Corinthians 3:2; Romans 8:9-17
- A disciple is willing to grow in Christ! 2 Peter 1:5-7
- Discipling is not an option–it is a command!
- A disciple has surrendered himself to His Lordship! Romans 8:28-32, 12; Galatians 2:20-21; Philippians 3:1-10; 1 Peter 4:2
- Matthew 28:16-20; Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 2:10; 2 Timothy 2:2 all tell us that it is a lifestyle that moves us deeper into prayer and into worshipping Christ!
- A disciple makes good decisions and is focused on God’s will!
- A disciple is honest with God and others! 1 John 1:9
- A disciple walks with the precepts of Psalm 15!
- A disciple knows his abilities, gifts, and talents! Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12-14; 1 Peter 4:10
- A disciple is willing to submit to Authority! 1 Peter 2:13-15
- A disciple is infused with humility! Psalm 149:4; Proverbs 3:34; Matthew 18:4; Ephesians 4:2-3; Colossians 3:12-14; Philippians 2:3-4; 1 Peter 5:6; James 4:10
- A disciple will not be critical or have a bad attitude! Romans 6:14; 1 Corinthians 13:4-5; Ephesians 4:29-32
- A disciple is not greedy! Luke 12:15; Romans 12:14-15
- A disciple is willing to wait on God’s timing! (Saul versus David)
- A disciple is a listener! (James)
- A disciple confesses sin and repents from it! Psalm 51; 2 Corinthians 12:9
- A disciple will not have a trace of pride in him! Job 35:12; Proverbs 6:16-19; 16:5; 18; 29:23; Obadiah 3; Galatians 5:26
- A disciple is discerning! Proverbs 20:25; Ephesians 6:10-20; 1 Peter 5:8-9; James 4:7
- A disciple loves people and the lost! Micah 6:8; Philippians 2:7; Hebrews 10:24-25; 2 Peter 3:9
- God calls us to motivate and teach others to move more in prayer and care for others! Mark 1:35-2:12; Galatians 6:1-10
- John 1:36-52, and Acts 10,16 tell us that discipling grows from a web of relationships!
- A disciple is a person who forgives! Matthew 5:46; John 17:20-23; Ephesians 4:1-2; 4:32
- A disciple is willing to endure hardships and consider them as growth opportunities! James 1:2-4
- A disciple is faithful! Matthew 25:29; Luke 16:10-12
- One of the themes of the Gospels and Acts 11-16 is that in discipling people, we walk them through the phases and experiences of life. We come along side them and we do not let them go off on their own!
- Mentoring and small groups will be you keys to success!
- Discipleship is a lifestyle. As we get into the lives of others, the purpose for loving them is simply because He first loved us, and, then we become instruments of His grace.
- In John 15, the goal is intimacy with Christ, that of being surrendered to Biblical priorities and not to our own. Then we become tools that Christ uses to equip others. We are to be equipped so that we can enable others to grow in Christ!
- Discipleship is not a one-time act. It is a change of heart, a change of direction for a lifetime.
- In Mark 8:34-38, Jesus said we are to deny ourselves. This means we are to surrender ourselves completely to Him. We are to identify with His character and with what He did on our behalf on the cross, and then, out of gratitude, follow Him wherever He leads us!
- Discipleship is dynamic, not static. Jesus desires us to understand that being a Christian is not just about sitting in a pew or saying a prayer. It is about a life committed, a life changed, a heart and will surrendered, and a new direction and worldview with His precepts and character for living as our example.
- A disciple is a server with a servant heart who leads by servant hood! Ephesians 2:10
Question: “Where am I?” in these thoughts:
- When we live just for and to ourselves, we miss opportunities, learning experiences, and growth, and we exchange an eternity of rewards for a limited time of fun.
- Remember, Christ loves you and wants the best for you. His way is the best way, and we need to have Him and the perspective of eternity in mind, not our limited feelings and desires!
- Jesus lived and died on our behalf, for He willingly gave up His life by paying the penalty for our sins. He allows us not only to escape the fires of hell, but also to give us eternal life. What is your response?
- Being a true disciple means having a willingness to trust Him completely in all aspects of our lives from the highest highs to the lowest lows. It means we are not only willing to trust Him to provide for our salvation, but we trust Him for the future. We are to trust Him even when we do not know, like, or understand, and when where He is leading is unpopular!
- Being a true disciple allows us to put our hand to the plow and not look back. As we grow in Christ, we become increasingly unsatisfied with anything less than His call and character.
- Jesus invites you to discipleship. But, He lets you know up front that it is a commitment that will cost you something. It is not going to be easy. You cannot just say you love the Lord. You must show it with your heart and it must transcend to your hands and feet. Then you will be Jesus’ disciple!
- Discipleship is costly because Jesus must have priority over your will, ideas, plans, and presumptions.
- “Follow me,” means going His way to His purpose, not our own way. It means following His plans, not our own; obeying His will, not our own.
- Jesus is saying, Look, if you want to be a disciple, you will have to choose to whom you will be loyal. Will it be God the Creator and Savior, or your limited ideas and things?
- The world hates Jesus because it knows that He has priority over all things and all relationships. The world wants to be god even though there already is a God!
- Considering the cost of discipleship means asking the question, “What does Jesus want me to do?”
- Jesus wants us to see that the cost of discipleship involves understanding that there is a higher calling on our lives than doing what we want to do. We cannot say to God that we are only available two hours on Sunday! We must respond with the attitude of Isaiah, Here I am God, ready to be used by you.
- How much does discipleship cost? It costs everything! However, the rewards are limitless as we are entrusted to a Savior who loves us deeply and more than we could ever comprehend! He desires the best for us, He has a plan and purpose for us in the kingdom of God, and He wants us to spend eternity with Him. There is no better way. To whom would you rather entrust yourself and your possessions?