Many Christians believe they are not gifted to disciple others. The problem with this thought is that discipleship, or the ability to disciple others is NOT a gift. It is NOT even a suggestion. It is indeed a command from Jesus! Why are Christians believing they are not capable of discipling others. I believe the answer is so simple. We are currently facing a major Christian discipleship crisis in the world because we simply do not understand what a disciples is and what he or she should do to produce more disciples.
The Great Commission is not a suggestion or merely something extra. It is indeed a command!
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. Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV)
The Great Commission is often interpreted as this: “Tell the lost people all about Jesus and how He saved them from their sins and if you just get saved all your real life problems go away and, if you sign up right now you will receive an instant bonus…you will go to heaven when you die.” Sometimes we get a little hostile and remind people about the fact that they are bound for hell if they fail accept Jesus. And, then we walk away sure they will one day turn their hearts towards Jesus and choose Him to be their savior. Yet we remain frustrated that ¨they just don´t get it.¨ Although these things may have some truth in them, the approach is where we lose new converts.
This is the worst sales pitch I have ever heard, and trying to reach people with a message like this is not very effective! These verses are often applied to evangelizing, rather than discipleship. The Great Commission is often misinterpreted because we do not understand the definition of a disciple to begin with. Seeking to get people saved, but failing to equip them to become learners of God will only produce immature and shallow believers.
Take note that evangelism is an important component of the disciple making process, but it cannot be evangelism alone. What we are seeing today is a movement to get people saved, and upon salvation we are not sure how to equip them and ground them in their faith. Christians today have re-invented the wheel of making disciples and the current statistics show is watching 60% of Millennials walk away from their faith because they really cannot identify the purpose of what they believe. This loss is the generation training up Generation Z and alphas.
So, what is a disciple?
The term disciple comes from the Greek word Mathetes. The term Mathetes is defined as “one who engages in learning through instruction from another pupil or apprentice.” The term “disciple” is not used in the Old Testament, but there were indeed disciples by definition during this time in Bible history.
The Hebrew word for a disciple is Talmid. A Talmid is one who follows the way of his teacher. He would set out to become a learner of God through everything his teacher knows about God and how to follow Him with all his heart, mind and soul. Most importantly the Talmid desired to imitate his teacher and become just like him.
To simplify these descriptions, a Christian disciple is a learner of God and His ways. The student of God learns with the intention of knowing the scriptures and the interpretation of the scriptures. He also learns with the full intention of imitating his teacher to become just like him. Our teacher, or rabbi if you will, is Jesus. So basically it is your job (and mine) to be disciples that learn the ways of Jesus and all that He had commanded of His followers, and then seek to imitate him through the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Now lets read the great commission again and replace the word disciple with the definition of a disciple. I am not asking you to change the scriptures here. What I am saying is to read the verse with the meaning or definition in mind. Learning to do this can be one of the greatest tools you can have when it comes to learning and understanding the Bible.
And Jesus came and spoke to them saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make LEARNERS 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 lo I am with you until the very end of age. Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV)
Becoming Like Your Teacher, Jesus
As disciples of Jesus Christ, the Great Commission (Matthew 28) applies to us all. It can be tough to know HOW to be a disciple if I do not know what a disciple is or does.
Being a disciple means more than just accepting Jesus into our hearts and going through life claiming to be a believer. Being a disciple means taking action in your everyday lives to grow closer to God, learn His Word and live out your faith in a way that others can observe your personal relationship with God. It is a reproducible faith that we need to seek out SO THAT others will want to know Jesus to. Becoming like our master teacher, Jesus, means equipping others to learn the Word of God and live out their faith just like you do.
Be a disciple maker
The first century rabbi set the greatest example of a disciple maker. Oddly enough, the rabbi did not generally seek out people who did not know God with hopes of converting him.
He did just the opposite. The Rabbi was so close to God that people, who already knew God and desired a deeper walk with God, would flock to him begging to be his student. They could observe the rabbi´s relationship with God in His everyday life.
When a potential student would approach a rabbi for teaching, his heart was already open to taking steps to grow in his faith. This does not mean that we should never try to share Jesus with unbelievers, but the reality is, it is hardly effective. Pushing people into salvation rarely works, but almost always pushes them further away.
What does work? Being the disciple!!! Become the disciple that attracts others to Jesus and a desire to know Him.
Becoming a disciple is a process. It is not something we do overnight, it is something we are constantly growing and maturing in. Why? Because a disciple is a learner seeking God´s ways and learning to live them out in their everyday lives. The process is that of a multiplication tactic. As you build relationships with others ready to grow, they will re-produce this in their own lives and the Kingdom grows as we the followers of Christ multiply.
Where do I start?
Becoming a learner is not as easy as it looks. Even seasoned Christians are not sure where to go or where to start becoming a learner. While there are many ways to learn the Bible, the Chronological overview of the Bible is the most effective way to learn the Bible and solidify your faith and trust in God´s Word.
Taking the major characters and events and piecing them together forms a big picture overview of the Bible. This will give you confidence in learning the order of the Bible. As you learn the Bible you will effectively discover God´s character within the context of the scriptures, learn to ask questions, and apply the scriptures to your life for growth. As you grow and run towards Jesus in your everyday life, you will look over and see others joining you in the race. This does not have to be complicated. There is never a need to attract people with hostility or a threat of eternity in hell! Living it out is the key to multiplication!!!
There is nothing worse than having me tell you to become a learner of God and His Word but then fail to equip you! Setting you up for success to be a learner of the Bible is the heart of the iWrite Bible ministry.
iWrite Bible is a devotional that will give you the tools to succeed at learning the Bible. This Chronological plan will give you the tools to:
- READ the Bible with a plan
- WRITE the scriptures surrounding the most important facts about the major characters and events of the Bible timeline.
- RECITE your favorite verses and commit them to MEMORY
- Obey the scriptures by searching for the character of God in the actual scriptures alone and interpreting them so you can grow!
- Bring you petitions to God through PRAYER
Becoming a learner that will GO and make more learners should never be difficult! You can try the iWrite Bible method for free. Our gift to you is the introduction and the first three lessons. Download and print today!!!
Also, be on the lookout for the New Testament Scripture Writing Devotional coming soon!!!