Making disciples is critical in this hour.
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 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. (Matthew 28:18–20, NKJV)
Jesus did not say, “go and plant churches.” I am not against church planting, and yes, I know that church planting is a crucial strategy in making disciples. The Kingdom of God expands through robust disciple-making. The church is in a critical season and making disciples is paramount.
I have planted five successful churches and, through the years, discipled several men. Church services have their needed place. But the most influential ministry and the most rewarding ministry is one-on-one discipleship.
Making disciples is still the most dynamic work in God’s Kingdom. Jesus’ command to make disciples was a part of His final words. Should we not give this strong consideration and thought?
The problem of the American church is our western mindset, and we contextualize the scripture to our culture. The Jesus mindset versus the American perspective is not the same. The command to make disciples is paramount and must be considered so.
Discipleship must be a top priority for believers and the modern-day church. With so many people are not attending church; we must take the command to make disciples more serious than ever before. So, what does biblical discipleship resemble? Let’s look at the discipleship from Jesus’ day.
The first task of the disciple is to follow a rabbi.
The rabbi would choose the student, and the student would forsake their way of life and follow their teacher.
The next task for the disciple was to memorize their teacher’s words.
The Jewish rabbis did not write scrolls or document their writings. They orally taught the students, and the disciples learned the words of the teacher verbatim. Therefore, memorizing the scriptures taught by Jesus is paramount, even today. Are we disciples of Jesus? Are we memorizing His words?
The disciples learned the traditions of their teacher and kept God’s command. To follow a Rabbi was serious to the disciples. The students mimicked every act of the teacher-how; he washed his hands, fasted, prayed, and taught the Torah.
Most important was the how and why the rabbi explained the scripture. This was called their yoke, and Jesus spoke about a yoke.
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”
The next task of the disciple is to imitate their teacher’s actions.
The disciple was to become like his teacher. The goal of every disciple is to imitate their teacher. The gospels express this concept, “every disciple, fully trained will be like his master.” (Luke 6:40)
In Hollywood, there is a form of acting called method acting. Actors take extreme measures to get into the character, and discipleship is method acting in its most accurate form of genuine.
The yoke of Christ is received when the disciples take on the character and nature of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “take my yoke” upon you.
Are we there? Let’s take our temperature.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-47, ESV)
The final task of the disciple is to disciple others.
It was the job of the discipled to raise his disciples and to select new students. After the selection, they taught others what they were taught. The ultimate outcome of discipleship is when a teacher’s fruit grows on the tree of the student. The biblical mandate is to pass on the teachings of Jesus from generation to generation.
The Jesus Model
Jesus traveled to the cities, and the disciples accompanied Him. The disciples did not sit in a class or read a manuscript, and the disciples received teaching while actively doing the ministry.
Peter, James, John, and the other nine disciples walked with Jesus through life and did life with Him. They served alongside Jesus, and the disciples were taught and caught His Spirit in the act of doing ministry.
The disciples were hands-on in every aspect of ministry and service. They watched Jesus teach the people, heal the sick, and cast out demons. They were active feeding people. The disciples also were privileged to see food multiply, people healed, and miracles birthed.
Jesus, both taught them and trained them. The American church is fat on teaching and leans on training, and American Christians have learned the Gospel without living the Gospel.
Yes, we can bring back making disciples, but we need to do it in the biblical model.
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