Disciple

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit Matthew 28:9

A Christian disciple is a personal follower of Jesus Christ, for example the twelve Apostles were Jesus’ disciples. Importantly we are disciples of Christ through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and through obedience toward Bible truths. The scriptures encourage us to also make disciples of people to follow Christ, this is our primary commission from God. We do this by truly loving one another, displaying a good understanding of the scriptures, sharing our testimony and manifesting the gifts of the Spirit. Obviously the above scripture identifies that there must exist a 'teacher student dynamic' in order to facilitate what the Bible calls the Great Commission.

"And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt 28:18:20 ESV).

There are many Christian’s who embarrass themselves by declaring that they need not be discipled because God does this - of course this is true, but it is only part of the picture. It is strange to hear some vehemently attack the word ‘theology’, supposing it only an academic endevour and thus non-spiritual. Yet in truth ‘theology' means ‘God-discourse’, to talk about the things of God and reach deeply into His word. The fruit being to go deep into His word and know Him more fully. The experienced believer will immediately notice this as a smoke screen behind which lives a person with a thin or flawed knowledge of the things of God and the Bible text itself. One reason for this dilemma could be the 1 John 2:27 passage below which some might interpret as a person not needing to study the word or be taught by Biblical scholars. 

“But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.” (1 John 2:27 ESV).

The problem with de-contextualising the above scripture is that the passage fundamentally rests on the necessity that one is in proper relationship with the Holy Spirit (abiding within) also that one receives ‘unction’ from above. It is vital that a believer’s perception of God and the Bible accords with natural religion, the Jewish religion and finally; that one's life shows that you move in the power of God. The difficulty is that many believers live on the fringe of God’s presence and are not receiving unction from above and are nor a similitude of God. In this case they are perishing because they are without knowledge and doomed to an endless cycle of not quite being in that place God wants them to be, because they don’t know God’s word. It was Calvin who said that a person must not study theology without a personal encounter with Jesus, so yes it is right that we should be anointed first. However God says that the word of God must dwell wintin us richly. The Bible is full of scriptures saying that we must study day and night and seek wisdom from a wide range of counsellors and teachers and be discipled.

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Col 3:16

"Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” Rom 10:17

5 reasons why everyone needs to be discipled. 

1) Encouragement and pressure

“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

We need people around us to whom we are accountable, pushing us to learn, and going beyond our comfort zones. Discipleship is a path to becoming like Christ. We need both godly people, His word and openness to the Holy Spirit in our lives for this to happen. God mostly moves in our lives through His word and friction with others in the form of relationship, fellowship, problem solving, teaching, care for others and general work.

2) Public reading of the Word to cleanse a deceitful heart 

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

Early in our walk with the Lord we tend to lie to ourselves and justify our own actions and sin and blame others for our situations. We constantly need to hear the word of God and know how to read it properly and not from some modern trendy or post-modern perspective. We need to be near people who know God’s word and have the gift of prophecy to feed into one anothers lives.

3) Submission to discipleship

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” (Hebrews 13:7).

Agreeing to be discipled can be a tricky affair, as we are giving someone permission to dig in to our lives. So wisdom is needed to find the right leader, person or people group. The actuality of being discipled may take many forms, from a simple friendship with a more spiritually experienced person, to perhaps a weekly meeting with specific mentor objectives.  

4) You need to learn from more mature people than you

“But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behaviour, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” (Titus 2:1-8). 

If you are a musician you don't get better by playing with people less skilled than you! Similarly, if you are threatened by people who know more about the Bible or seem to be further along in their faith, you are being prideful and this is a fatal hinderance to your own spiritual growth. You won't grow until you submit to the fact that you might be able to learn from someone else. Leaders and pastors are not immune too. Leaders, are there people in your congregation who hear God better than you, or who know the Bible in greater depth? Pastors without mentors never manage to grow properly or grow their flock, they simply end up being reactive managers of a ship following other men’s ideas.

5) To make disciples you need to be discipled

“And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favour with all the people.  And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:46-47).

It is challenging for a person to make disciples if they themselves aren't being discipled or have issues with authority. The early church disciples submitted themselves to one another and to the teachings of the Apostle's. When we have a proper attitude toward submission and submit to another person to disciple us, we will begin naturally discipling others because our submissive attitude toward other people will attract discipling type conversations with others. 

In opposition to popular belief the 'Sunday church' is not necessarily a place you can be effectively discipled. The principle reason for this is that a large group cannot meet close contact dynamics and needs of a one-to-one relationship. Fundamentally, believers must meet with one another and also gather in small groups in their homes. This is the most important function of the body of Christ, that it emerges from the Holy Spirit first and formost through the believer, then the home, then the broader community which includes larger gatherings that we call church. Biblically neither of these micro gatherings has anything to do with the Sunday gathering, which may be describe as a corporate event. These events are excellent for worship, teaching and revival, but are only really effective when the congregation have a personal encounter with Christ in their homes, between their partners, children, friends and neighbours.


Example… Editors testimony on discipleship:


Submission to:

Two elderly miracle working missionaries since 1984

Biblical and family submission to my natural father and my wife

Concerning the text: Biblical scholors and theologians

Discipling:

Privately three church leaders

Specific one to one meetings with believers

Family and some friends

Giving daily account to others as and when...

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