Read Matthew 4:18-19; Romans 15:1- 13
Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ. It remains an abstract idea, a myth which has a place for the Fatherhood of God, but omits Christ as the living Son. … There is trust in God, but no following of Christ. Dietrich Bonhoeffer
What is a disciple? Jesus said, Follow Me (Matt. 4:19; 9:9). Jesus did not mean that they should just physically follow Him on the road, as we really can't do that now. Rather, this is a call to be set a- part, challenged, andtaught so we see and adhere to the call and mission Christ gives us. The word "disciple" literally means someone who pledges to be a "learner." Moreover, it is someone who follows another's teaching, and adheres to it. It is a commitment and a process. It involves commitment, and time to undertake the learning, and, as a Christian, a yearning to imitate Jesus!
- We are to become His disciple!
- We are to be discipled!
- We are to disciple others so they can in turn disciple others…
This is all about living our lives for Christ, following, learning, listening, observing, and experiencing life directly with Jesus through His Word and council and instructions from godly mature Christians. Then we are to carry that leaning and experience to others (Matt. 10:1-15; the Book of Acts).
What we need to learn for today:
- Discipleship has a cost. Following Christ will cost us and require effort and consistency (Matt. 8:18-22; 10:38; Luke 9:57-58; 14:27). The original disciples left their family and good jobs (Matt. 10:37; 19:27; Luke 9:59-62; 14: 25-26; 33)! Jesus did not call bums with nothing better to do!
- Jesus expects us to know what we are getting into and embrace it with vigor and faith. Nothing can come before Him (Matt. 3:8; 6:33; Luke 14:15-24; John 8:31; 14-15)!
- We must embrace our call and responsibility to be discipled and make disciples! If we are truly willing to learn and apply what Christ taught, we will truly be His disciples! The Church will be on fire by the Spirit and impacting the world! What we gain will far out weigh any suffering or loss on our part (Mark 10:28-30; 1 Cor. 15:58)! If, and when we hear God's call, depends on our ears, will, and attitude (Matt. 22:14).
- God does not force us nor plead with us; He merely presents us the option (Isa. 6:8)! We must say, as Isaiah said, Here I am, send me! We must allow our spiritual eyes to be opened and our will to be relinquished to His, for real discipleship to take place. Then, our churches will grow in prayer, worship, and maturity, and revival may take place!
- "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." Are you doing that? Let us allow the power of the Holy Spirit to open our eyes, and break our will, so we can be receptive to our Lord and Savior, and so we can do as He called!
- We are called to mentor and instruct others in the faith for Christ's glory! This is what Discipleship is all about. Yet it seems this is not done many of today's churches! What is sometimes done is the opposite! Paul also opens his heart to his readers and to us, and becomes very vulnerable and candid. He seeks their prayers and support. And, in his final closing, he is still overflowing with the magnitude of the greatness of God's grace! Emperor Nero may have martyred him, but his voice prevails today, nearly 2000 years later, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
· We are to be rooted in humility, as our Lord was (Mark 10:45). This means mutual acceptance of others, even those whose culture and beliefs are different. Yet, it is amazing how we Christians exclude one another over trivial items, causing many church splits and schisms! Thus, we have created a poor reputation in the world. We often are the butt of jokes that we have well earned.
· Know this wonderful fact: God accepted you. You, in turn, must accept others! At the same time we are to beware, as a wild animal will tear at another animal's weakness and frailty. We have to ask ourselves, do we do the same with others, and still seek to praise the Lord?
· Christ bears our stupidities, and has patience with us when we are totally undeserving! We are to seek the good in others, as our Lord did, and be a blessing to others. We are not to seek self-gratification at the expense of others.
We have to realize that it is impossible to be a Christian hypocrite, as it is impossible to be half pregnant. Either you are or you are not. The fruit will show your true colors. Jesus modeled and preached this. In doing so, He fulfilled prophecy. The primary goal of our Lord has always been to sanctify all (all people groups, tribes, nations, etc.) people from sin (Rev. 7:9). God saved us not to be self-centered; He saved us to be His ambassadors wherever we are and whenever we go! Paul uses the Scriptures to prove this point. Keep in mind that the people of Babel sought their own strength (Gen 11). While, God wants us to seek Him, Who is the greater strength and purpose!
It all comes to the decision of whether we will make our faith real and impacting, relinquishing our pride to allow us to learn, grow, and teach others, or will we plant our rears in the pew, thus making our only impact our butt print in that pew! Let us make sure our impact comes from a life transformed and carried on to the people around us!
1. What is a disciple to you?
2. Christianity does not end at repentance and conversion. It begins there! How has this been so in you? If not, what is in the way?
3. Why would and should a more experienced and mature Christian walk along side new and less mature Christians?
4. What have been your thoughts about our discussion of pride and arrogance? Have you been challenged, or do you feel we are barking up the wrong tree in our emphases?
5. Why does a Christian have the obligation, the imperative command, to disciple others in growth with time, love, and patience?
6. What would be some excuses not to do it? How would Christ receive these excuses?
7. In what ways do Christians present their own version(s) of lordship, to the exclusion of Christ (How do we see Jesus--as lord, or Lord)?
8. Why would dedication to unity rather than strife and envy benefit your church?
9. How does it make you feel that our Lord suffered for the benefit of you and others, to the exclusion of Himself? Does this give you hope and encouragement? What about motivation?
10. What are the patterns that you and your church take in serving others?
11. The Scriptures were written for you, for your benefit, for your learning, and growth, all by divine inspiration. How does this or how can this motivate you to get in the Word daily?
12. Why would having no hope cause you and your church to have no vision and purpose for Discipleship, or not to trust the One who loves?
13. How can you embrace what discipleship means, and apply it to the time you have left?
14. Jesus ended His time on earth with an imperative command for us as individuals, and as a Church, to make more disciples (Matt. 28:19-20). Consequently, what has been your church's response to this? (Consider there is nothing we do as a church that could be more important that this! It is even more important than evangelism, which is our responsibility, but the only imperative command we are given by Christ is to do discipleship!)
15. How does it make you feel that few of us ministers will undertake discipleship for ourselves or train others because of pride, lack of time, or misplaced priorities?
16. How does the fact that most churches do not do discipleship affect the Kingdom of God and our call to the Great Commission?
17. What can you do or remove so that you can embrace discipleship with vigor and faith, so that nothing can come before Him?
18. How can you find the balance and build the time to be and make Disciples. Prayer, and having a good person to disciple you, will allow it to happen! Can you see what you need to give up and what you need to keep in order to become His committed child?
God saved us, not to be self-centered, but to be His ambassadors wherever we are and whenever we can!
© 1998, 2002, R. J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, http://www.churchleadership.org/